New Delhi: Hosts India will have to be on guard when they start their campaign in the World League Round II of the World Cup qualifiers, at the Dhyan Chand Stadium, on Monday, feels captain Sardar Singh.
Apart from India, the other teams in the tournament are Ireland (world No. 15), China (18), Oman (36), Fiji (40) and Bangladesh (71) — all ranked below India (11) in the FIH rankings. Only the winners of the league will make it to the next phase. “Rankings do not always reflect the true strength of a team,” warned Sardar.
Asked whether India could have fielded a junior team for the tournament, Sardar said: “I don’t think so… Ireland are a good team, but we should not take others lightly.”
Asked whether the Indian players would be tired since they just finished playing in the Hockey India League, Sardar said: “Every player has played at least 12 matches in the last one month but that’s no excuse.”
In the women’s draw that will be played simultaneously, world No.9 Japan start favourites ahead of India, Malaysia, Kazakhstan, Russia and Fiji. The Indian girls are ranked 12th in the world.
Meanwhile, Cairn India has been roped in as the co-sponsors of the Indian men’s and the women’s teams.