The FIH Men’s Hockey World Cup 2023 is all set to begin in Bhubaneswar and Rourkela on January 13 with hosts India taking on Spain in the final match on Friday. This will be the second time in succession that the Hockey World Cup will be played in Odisha.
16 teams will be competing against each other for one of the most coveted prizes in hockey.
A mesmerising opening ceremony at the iconic Barabati Stadium in Cuttack was witnessed by thousands of hockey lovers in attendance from across the country and abroad on Wednesday.
And now, fans of India’s national sport are gearing up for the main event. The opening match between Argentina and South Africa will kick-start the tournament which will run till January 29.
Chak De India!
India are pitted against England, Spain and Wales in Group D. India were knocked out in the quarterfinals of the previous World Cup on home soil in 2018 by the Netherlands.
This year, India will seek their first podium finish in 48 years at the World Cup. The Men in Blue have won the tournament once in 1975 and have a silver and bronze medal from the 1973 and 1971 editions, respectively.
From 1978 to 2014, India could not make it past the group stage.
But a medal in this showpiece will strengthen the claim that the former giants of the game with eight Olympic gold have turned the corner in world hockey.
India eye winning start vs Spain
India will hope to begin with a win, as that result can help them top Pool D for a direct quarterfinal berth and avoid playing cross-over matches (meant for second and third place teams of each of each of the four pools).
Qualifying for the quarterfinals through cross-over matches could lead to facing stronger teams in the last-eight stage like defending champions Belgium.
“It’s an old adage that the first game is the most important, so we are just focussing on that and then take it forward. That’s how we are approaching,” said India coach Graham Reid.
India Squad: India: Abhishek, Surender Kumar, Manpreet Singh, Hardik Singh, Jarmanpreet Singh, Mandeep Singh, Harmanpreet Singh (captain), Lalit Upadhyay, Krishan Pathak, Nilam Sanjeep Xess, PR Sreejesh, Nilakanta Sharma, Shamsher Singh, Varun Kumar, Akashdeep Singh, Amit Rohidas (vice-captain), Vivek Sagar Prasad and Sukhjeet Singh.