Hosts India stand a good chance to end their 43-year wait for the FIH World Cup crown ever since their title triumph in the 1975 inaugural edition.
As the charged up Indians start their quest for the coveted FIH Men’s Hockey World Cup trophy against South Africa at the new-look Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar, Odisha, the dice will be heavily loaded in their favour.
The eight-time Olympic champions start among favourites on their current form and strength, to backed by a strong home fans’ support, to repeat the feat accomplished by
Ajit Pal Singh’s team in the first ever FIH Men’s Hockey World Cup 43 years ago.
The team in the intervening 12 editions has at best managed to finish in the fifth position, playing host to the fifth World Cup at Mumbai in 1982. The last time India hosted the World Cup in Delhi eight years ago, the hosts had ended up a lowly, embarrassing eighth.
Now ranked fifth, the hosts are tipped to have their best chance to have a shot the crowning glory ever since that success in the first World Cup. Chief coach Harendra Singh, who has come under the scanner after India’s failure to defend its Asian Games title earlier this year, would be eager to recreate the magic of two years ago when he guided the junior Indian team to the World Cup title in Lucknow, adds PTI.
To achieve his goal, Harendra has drafted in seven of 18 junior World Cup winners in the senior team alongside senior pros like skipper Manpreet Singh, PR Sreejesh, Akashdeep Singh and the ever-reliable Birendra Lakra.
The Indian team for the World Cup is a mixture of youth and experience with seven of the 18 featuring in the last World Cup. The squad also has youthful exuberance in 19-year-old striker Dilpreet Singh and debutant Hardik Singh.
In the 16-nation tournament India are placed alongside South Africa, Belgium and Canada in the Group C.
The fans can catch the action LIVE from 7 p.m. on Wednesday on Star Sports Network, Doordarshan. The match will also be live streamed on FIH official website, FIH official YouTube channel, Twitter: @FIH_Hockey| Facebook: FIHockey.
Before the India-South Africa duel, Belgium and Canada will be engaged in the other Pool C encounter. The inaugural match of the 14th FIH Men’s Hockey World Cup, scheduled to start at 5 p.m. India time, will also be broadcast live on the abovementioned platforms.