Hosts India handed tricky draw at hockey World Cup

Published on Sep 08, 2022 05:16 PM IST

India have been grouped in Pool D along with England, Spain, and Wales for the Jan 13-29 event.

Indian hockey team in action.(PTI)
Indian hockey team in action.(PTI)
By, Bhubaneswar

Hosts India have been handed a tricky draw at the 2023 hockey World Cup to be played in Bhubaneswar and Rourkela from January 13 to 29. The Olympic bronze medallists have been grouped in Pool D along with England, Spain, and Wales.

Pool D is the only group with three of the world’s top eight teams with India ranked as No 5, a spot ahead of England and world No 8 Spain. India and England played a thrilling 4-4 draw recently at the Commonwealth Games before triumphing over Wales 4-1 in the group stages in Birmingham. Wales will be playing their maiden World Cup. India last played Spain in the Pro League where they won one and lost the other game in February.

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.

Unveiled during the draw ceremony in Bhubaneswar on Thursday, 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 2016 Olympic champions Argentina, world No 11 France—playing their fourth World Cup—and African champions South Africa in their group.

Pool B will comprise 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—playing their ninth World Cup—and debutants Chile.

The matches will be played at the Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar—which also hosted the 2018 World Cup—and at the new Birsa Munda Hockey Stadium in Rourkela.

“We can’t wait to see the best teams in the world in action in the new ‘jewel’ of hockey, the Birsa Munda Hockey Stadium in Rourkela, which, alongside the iconic Kalinga Hockey Stadium in Bhubaneswar, will play host to the 2023 FIH Odisha Hockey Men’s World Cup," FIH Acting President Seif Ahmed said.

India have thrice stood on the podium at the World Cup. 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 Netherlands.

Pool A: Australia, Argentina, France, South Africa

Pool B: Belgium, Germany, Korea, Japan

Pool C: Netherlands, New Zealand, Malaysia, Chile

Pool D: India, England, Spain, Wales

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