With the Indian hockey team kickstarting its FIH Men`s Hockey World Cup 2023 campaign against Spain at the Birsa Munda Stadium in Rourkela on Friday, Hockey India president Dilip Tirkey said that it is a massive tournament for India and very rarely countries get a chance to host back-to-back home World Cups.
Earlier, India had hosted the World Cup in 2018 in Odisha`s Bhubaneswar.
The marquee Hockey event will be held in Bhubaneswar and Rourkela from January 13 to January 29.
India are placed in Pool D along with England, Wales and Spain.
The anticipation among hockey fans in India is at an all-time high as the Indian men`s hockey team start their FIH Odisha Hockey Men`s World Cup 2023 Bhubaneswar-Rourkela campaign against Spain on Friday at the new Birsa Munda Hockey Stadium in Rourkela.
In Rourkela, the Birsa Munda Stadium is a testament to the efforts of Hockey India and the Odisha Government. The stadium was built in a record time of 15 months. The total capacity of the stadium is 20,000 making it the largest all-seater Hockey stadium in the world. The Kalinga Stadium, housed in the Kalinga Sports Complex in Bhubaneswar, boasts world-class facilities, complete with a High-Performance Hockey Centre. The stadium will host 24 of the 44 matches, including the finals.
Also read: Defending Champions Belgium arrive in Odisha for FIH Hockey Men`s World Cup 2023
Hockey India president Dilip Tirkey shared his thoughts on the event and India`s chances.
“It is a massive tournament for us. A home world cup is always special and very rarely do you have back-to-back home world cups. If you see the facilities in Odisha, they are superb. We are looking forward to welcoming the world to Odisha and with COVID under control we expect packed houses for most games. All India games are sold out and you will see packed stands. When you have crowd support it automatically gives you a boost and it should be no different for India,” said Hockey India president Dilip Tirkey on Backstage with Boria show.
Captain Harmanpreet Singh will have to lead by example as he is also India`s number one drag-flicker. His penalty corner conversion is going to be crucial for India`s chances.
“They are massively important as you know. We have some excellent drag flickers now but we need to ensure we get better and have a plan ahead. Harmanpreet and Rupinder Pal have done superbly well for us and Gurjit has matured over a period of time. But we need to get even better because good drag flickers can win you games. Sandeep and Jugraj both were excellent but then you know what happened to them both and for a period we struggled. Now we have got better again and we must ensure this is sustained,” said Dilip Tirkey.
A total of 16 teams – Australia, Argentina, France, South Africa, Belgium, Germany, South Korea, Japan, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Malaysia, Chile, India, England, Spain and Wales – will play for the Men`s Hockey World Cup trophy.
India bagged a bronze medal in 1971, silver in 1973 and gold in 1975, having its last podium finish at the world cup nearly 48 years ago. Graham Reid, the Australian World Cup and Olympic medallist coaching the Indian side which is a blend of youth and experience will be hoping to have a fruitful campaign this time around.
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