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History favours the Indians

India captain Manpreet Singh (left) and Germany’s Mats Grambusch with the Junior Hockey World Cup, in New Delhi, on Thursday. (PTI)

New Delhi: Indian hockey’s rising stars will be under immense pressure but they would aim to rise above it and make a positive start in the Junior Men’s World Cup when they take on a formidable Netherlands in their opening tie, here, on Friday.

Any tournament at home soil brings with it a fair deal of expectations and for India, the 10th FIH Junior Men’s Hockey World Cup is no different as the country is hosting the global event from December 6 to 15 at the Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium here.

The Manpreet Singh-led Indian outfit will be under pressure to at least repeat the podium finish their women counterparts achieved when they won a historic bronze at Mochengladbach, Germany, earlier this year.

The Indian team and chief coach Greg Clark are well aware of the significance of the opening Pool C match as it sets the tempo for the rest of the tournament.

The Indians would be eyeing at least a draw against Netherlands if not a win because they know very well that it is always difficult to make a comeback in a short four-team pool after a loss.

Going by the record book, India hold an edge over Netherlands as they won the junior World Cup once in 2001, and their next best finish came in 2005 when they lost the bronze-medal match to Spain to finish fourth. Clark feels India have a very good chance of lifting the trophy after 12 years to delight the home fans.

“We’ve got a good chance. (But) We don’t want to put any pressure on ourselves; there’s enough of that playing a home tournament. I think the players and the management realise that if we do play according to our ability, we do give ourselves a very good chance,” Clark said. (PTI)