Indian men’s hockey team to face Pakistan in Commonwealth Games 2018 opener
Indian men’s hockey team will start their Commonwealth Games 2018 campaign against arch-rivals Pakistanother sports Updated: Nov 28, 2017 22:25 IST
India will open their men’s hockey campaign at the 2018 Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast, Australia, against arch-rivals Pakistan as they landed in a tough group for the preliminary round.
Placed in Pool B along with England, Pakistan, Malaysia and Wales, the India team will have to be on its toes from the first match itself as only two teams will qualify for the knockout semi-finals from the group.
The comparatively easier Pool A includes five-time winners Australia besides New Zealand, Canada, South Africa and Scotland.
The event will be held from April 4-15 and India play their opener on April 7.
“It is a tough pool but we are looking forward to the challenge. We are playing England and Australia here at the Hockey World League Final in Bhubaneswar, so this experience will help us in our preparations for the Commonwealth Games. With the top two teams qualifying for semi-finals, the group stage will definitely witness close contests,” said Sjoerd Marijne, chief coach of the Indian men’s team.
Hockey was introduced in Commonwealth Games in 1998 at Kuala Lumpur and Australia have dominated the men’s section, winning the title on all five occasions. Pakistan, Malaysia and New Zealand have finished second once while India reached the final to win silver in the last two editions, at New Delhi and Glasgow. The Indian men’s team did not participate in the 2002 edition.
The Indian women’s team, which won gold in the 2002 edition, will face England, South Africa, Malaysia and Wales in Pool A. Defending champions Australia, who have bagged gold medal in four of the five editions, are in Pool B which also features New Zealand, Scotland, Canada and Ghana.
India and England, who played an epic final in 2002 in Manchester, will meet on April 8, three days after the Asian team opens its campaign against Wales on the opening day of competition.
“I am happy with the grouping. I believe our team can challenge any team in the world. They are moving up in the world rankings and that encourages the athletes to get better and better. But it’s the Commonwealth Games and we can’t take any team lightly,” said women team’s chief coach, Harendra Singh.
Pool A: Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Canada, Scotland
Pool B: India, England, Pakistan, Malaysia, Wales.
Pool A: England, India, South Africa, Malaysia, Wales
Pool B: Australia, New Zealand, Scotland, Canada, Ghana.
First Published: Nov 28, 2017 18:25 IST