India to open campaign in FIH Pro League against Netherlands on January 18
India, who pulled out of the inaugural edition of the tournament, will play the Dutch side on January 18 and 19 next year.Updated: Sep 04, 2019 23:06 IST
The India men’s hockey team will open their campaign with a home double-header against world No 3 Netherlands on January 18 and 19 in their 2020 FIH Pro League debut.
The Pro League involves nine teams in men’s and women’s section, each playing on home and away basis on a two-year schedule. Olympic champions Argentina, world champions Belgium, Australia, Germany, Great Britain, Netherlands, New Zealand, Spain besides India are the teams in men’s section while Argentina, Australia, Belgium, China, Germany, Great Britain, Netherlands, New Zealand and USA comprise the women’s section.
India will host their first six matches. After facing the Dutch, they will take on Belgium on February 8-9 followed by defending champions and world No 1 Australia on February 22-23. Hockey India (HI) are likely to host the games in Lucknow, Raipur and Bhubaneswar with the international hockey federation (FIH) taking the final call.
“The league provides a great opportunity to play against top teams and we expect all matches to be challenging,” India skipper Manpreet Singh said. “I am sure playing continuous top-level matches will be beneficial in the all-important Olympic year and this could also mean good match exposure for all players in the core group.”
After hosting the first six matches, India will get on the road with away games against Germany (April 25-26) and Great Britain (May 2-3). They will return home to host New Zealand on May 23-24 before boarding a flight to Argentina for games on June 5-6. The Manpreet-led side will end their league engagements away against Spain on June 13-14. The tournament will conclude with the men’s final on June 28.
“Having experienced it first hand, I know how important it is to have regular competition,” India chief coach Graham Reid said. “To play against the best teams and test the depth of this talented young squad will be the ideal preparation for the Olympics should we qualify in November.”
FIH announced the full schedule for the second season of the Pro League on Wednesday with China hosting holders Netherlands in the women’s event opener on January 11. In all, 144 matches will be played across the two sections with the event concluding on June 28, just a few weeks before the Tokyo Olympics.