Wednesday, 4 June 2014 | MYT 6:45 PM
Aussie and Belgium to clash for top spot
Belgium players celebrate their 6-2 win over Malaysia. The Europeans have been going great guns in Group A with two wins so far. - filepic
THE HAGUE: Defending champions Australia and Belgium will lock horns in what will be the defining moment in Group A on Thursday.
Both teams have six points after two matches but Australia top the group with better goal difference. A win will put them on the threshold of a place in the semi-finals.
Australia are determined to win the World Cup as a farewell gift to their coach Ric Charlesworth.
But the Red Lions, who have been in the wilderness for far too long, have their own plans and intend to make this World Cup their crowning glory.
Charlesworth admitted that the Belgians “are a strong team and worthy of respect”.
“There is no doubt about their pedigree. They are playing very well ... even before we came here, we knew they were a team to watch out for in this World Cup,” he said.
Australia began with a 4-0 win over Malaysia and then defeated Spain 3-0. The Belgians beat India 3-2 and whipped Malaysia 6-2.
Charlesworth was an interested spectator at the Belgium-Malaysia game and he came away impressed with the attacking play of the European side.
“I think it’ll be a good match-up and one that will test the potential of both teams. We will play our normal game and not worry too much about what they’ll do,” he said.
Charlesworth also welcomed the two-day break, saying it would give all the teams ample time to recover and plan.
“This is the easiest tournament I’ve taken part in. There are plenty of breaks ... with another one coming up next week.”
In the other group A match, India will be hoping to stop their run of bad luck – which has seen them losing two matches on a trot at the last minute – when they entertain Spain on Thursday.
They lost 3-2 to Belgium, with the winning goal coming 15 seconds before the game ended.
In the second game, they seemed to be heading for a draw when England scored with just two minutes remaining to win 2-1.
India coach Terry Walsh said: “The boys played a great game against England ... but the end result was disappointing.
“We are analysing the mistakes we made in the last two games and will try to change our game accordingly.”