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When India last hosted the Hockey World Cup at Bombay in 1982, the team went into the mega event as the reigning Olympic champions.

india Updated: Jan 01, 2010 00:43 IST

When India last hosted the Hockey World Cup at Bombay in 1982, the team went into the mega event as the reigning Olympic champions.

28 years later, when the hosts take on archrivals Pakistan at the National Stadium in New Delhi in the opener of the 2010 event on Feb 28, they take the field having failed to qualify for the Olympics for the first time in nine decades.

Finishing anywhere above 6 will be an achievement for a team struggling to break free from the web of mediocrity it got entangled in since winning the World Cup way back in 1975 at Kuala Lumpur. Though fans will be hoping to see India win title on home soil, even making it to the semifinals will be a daunting task for coach Jose Brasa and his boys.

However, fans can look forward to some great action with stars like Jamie Dwyer of Australia, Santi Freixa and Pol Amat of Spain, Christopher Zeller of Germany, Teun de Nooijer and Taeke Taekema of the Netherlands and Sohail Abbas of Pakistan gracing the field.

For the hosts, the first challenge will be getting the better of archrivals Pakistan. After that it will be Australia, Spain and England. Once Brasa's boys get the past these hurdles then it will be time to fulfil a dream.