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regular-article-logo Thursday, 29 February 2024

Hockey World Cup: Game plan in place, hosts suit up to aim for glory

It will not be easy but we are determined to win and have a game-by-game strategy to advance in the championship, says Harmanpreet

Subhashish Mohanty Bhubaneswar Published 13.01.23, 03:10 AM
India midfielder Manpreet Singh at practice ahead of their FIH Men’s Hockey World Cup opener against Spain in Rourkela on Friday.

India midfielder Manpreet Singh at practice ahead of their FIH Men’s Hockey World Cup opener against Spain in Rourkela on Friday. Picture courtesy Hockey India

The Indian team is upbeat about their chances and remain confident in their game-by-game strategy to win the Hockey World Cup, beginning in Odisha on Friday.

The hosts face off against Spain at the Birsa Munda International Stadium in Rourkela in their opener. On the eve of their first game, the team exuded confidence about winning the Cup if everything goes according to plan.

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Addressing a news conference in Rourkela — where the team has been camping for more than two weeks — captain Haramanpreet Singh said on Thursday: “We have the experience. We are fit. We are consistently performing well. We can win the World Cup.”

The expectation is high from this Indian team that won the bronze medal at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics — their first medal at the Games after 41 years.

Speaking about their approach, Harmanpreet said: “It will not be easy but we are determined to win and have a game-by-game strategy to advance in the championship.”

Flanked by coach Graham Reid, the captain added: “We do have specific plans for each game. We have asked the players to remain focused and enjoy the game. That’s important. We need to keep our performance high match after match till we reach the finals.”

Besides India and Spain, Pool D also has England and debutants Wales.

Four matches are scheduled on the opening day with two games each at the Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar — Pool A’s Argentina vs South Africa and Australia vs France — and the Birsa Munda Stadium in Rourkela — the India game and England vs Wales.

Coach Reid said the home crowd’s presence would boost the team’s morale. Each team member is aware of their responsibility, Haramanpreet said, adding: “There’s a home crowd advantage. We know that this tournament comes once every four years. It’s a great opportunity to play for India in this big tournament”.

This is also an opportunity for the people of Odisha to especially cheer on two of their own at the World Cup: vice-captain Amit Rohidas and debutant Nilam Sanjeep Xess.

Reid and Harmanpreet praised the atmosphere in Rourkela where they have been camping since December 26. “The pitches are good here. The weather has changed. Accordingly, we practised both in the morning and evening,” the captain said.

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