The sub-continent can be a tough frontier to conquer. Like the weather, the spectators can be a revelation but the international teams, gathered in the Capital for the Hero Honda FIH World Cup, are up for the test.
“Playing in India is a challenge but the players are confident of performing well,” said 23-year-old Marvin Harper of South Africa during an interaction in a city hotel. The forward from Durban, who occasionally essays the role of a mid-fielder, said the players had received guidelines from the cricket team, engaged in a one-day series here, at a “management level”. “We have received security advice from the cricket board,” he said.
Florian Fuchs of Germany shared the concern but said there were more important things to worry about. “India and Pakistan are the local teams and have the home advantage. However, we have a week to get accustomed to the ground conditions,” said the 18-year-old striker.
Fuchs said Germany’s strength lay in its youthful side and they would look to give the hosts a tough fight, if the two teams meet. India are in Pool B, which includes Pakistan, and favourites the Netherlands.
Dutch goalkeeper Guus Vogels differed with Fuchs and said conditions would not be a big factor. “Our preparations were hampered because the grounds at home are frozen. We went to South Africa to prepare, played two matches against Pakistan in Doha, Qatar and in Spain. The conditions here are different but we have experienced players who can overcome them.”
For Argentina, along with the conditions, lack of match practice will be a problem. “We don’t get to play top teams as they don’t visit us because of the distance,” said Pedro Ibarra.
Striker Ibarra, who made his debut in 2005, said Argentina would have to play as a unit to make a mark.