Hockey: India to begin World Cup campaign against Spain

Published on Sep 27, 2022 10:03 PM IST

The hosts will stay in Rourkela for their second Pool D match against England on January 15 before flying out to Bhubaneswar to face Wales in their final group game

The hosts have been handed a tricky draw, grouped in Pool D along with England, Spain and Wales.(Twitter/@TheHockeyIndia)
The hosts have been handed a tricky draw, grouped in Pool D along with England, Spain and Wales.(Twitter/@TheHockeyIndia)
By, New Delhi

The Indian men’s hockey team will open the 2023 World Cup against Spain at the newly built Birsa Munda International Hockey Stadium in Rourkela on January 13.

The hosts will stay in Rourkela for their second Pool D match against England on January 15 before flying out to Bhubaneswar to face Wales in their final group game at the Kalinga Stadium—the venue of the previous World Cup in 2018, the international hockey federation (FIH) announced on Tuesday.

Argentina, the 2016 Olympic gold medallists, and South Africa will play the opening game of the showpiece event in Bhubaneswar on January 13 before world No 1 Australia face France at the same venue a couple of hours later.

After the two Pool A matches, neighbours England and Wales will play Rourkela's first game before India’s contest later in the evening. All of India’s group games will be held at 7 pm IST.

In total, 44 matches will be played with all the knockouts to be held in Bhubaneswar. The four crossover games will be played on January 22 and 23 with the quarter-finals scheduled on January 24 and 25. The semi-finals will be held on January 27 with the final scheduled on January 29. All teams will play at both venues.

The hosts have been handed a tricky draw, grouped in Pool D along with England, Spain and Wales. It is the only group to comprise three of the world’s top-8 teams with India ranked as No 5, a spot ahead of England and world No 8 Spain. Wales are ranked No 16.

Pool A will be headed by world No 1 Australia, who claimed bronze at the last World Cup in 2018. The reigning Commonwealth Games champions will have Argentina, world No 11 France and African champions South Africa in their group.

Pool B comprises reigning world and Olympic champions Belgium alongside world No 4 Germany. The two European teams will be joined by two Asian representatives in South Korea and reigning Asian Games gold medallists Japan.

Pool C will feature the runners-up of last edition, the Netherlands who will take on New Zealand, Malaysia and Chile.

Chile and Wales have qualified for the World Cup for the first time.

The top-placed team at the end of the group stage will advance directly to the quarter-finals while the second and third-placed teams will play their counterparts from other pools in the crossovers. The winners of crossovers will then earn a spot in the last eight.

At the World Cup, India have finished on the podium thrice. They claimed bronze in the 1971 edition in Barcelona before a silver medal finish two years later at Amstelveen. The only time India won gold was in 1975 when the Ajit Pal Singh-led side beat Pakistan 2-1 in the final in Kuala Lumpur.

In the last edition, India exited the quadrennial tournament in the quarter-finals after losing 1-2 to eventual finalists the Netherlands. Belgium are the defending champions, having defeated the Netherlands in the final of the 2018 edition.

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