Hockey World Cup 2018: India begin campaign vs South Africa with focus on topping group

first_imgIndia are all set to begin the Hockey Men’s World Cup at the Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar, Odisha with their opener against South Africa on Wednesday at 19:00 IST.India are placed in Pool C alongside Belgium, Canada and South Africa. India will take on Belgium on December 2 and will be up against Canada on December 8.India’s 18-man squad will be shouldering a lot of expectations and responsibilities as they aim to shine bright in a World Cup at home. Sure they will have the crowd behind them and considering it is happening in Bhubaneswar, a lot of crowd but with that comes a huge amount of pressure and it remains to be seen how the team will deal with that.India have won only a single World Cup to date when Ajit Pal Singh and his men gave India their only title back in 1975. Despite being the hockey giants for ages, at the World Cup somehow, India have always faltered.Hockey World Cup 2018: FULL COVERAGE | FULL SQUADS | SCHEDULEOn the other hand, arch rivals Pakistan are the most successful team in the World Cup, having won the tournament four times.Even then, both India and Pakistan have been struggling to live up to their old and golden era while Australia, Spain, Netherlands and Argentina have been soaring high.India’s best performance since the start of the 21st century has been an eighth-place finish that they clinched during the 2010 edition of the tournament, which was held in New Delhi. India finished ninth in the last edition at The Hague, Netherlands.advertisementOn the other hand, the Aussies are bidding to win an unprecedented third straight title.India’s squad for the World Cup is as follows:Coach: Harendra SinghGoalkeepers: PR Sreejesh, Krishna Bahadur PathakDefenders: Harmanpreet Singh, Birendra Lakra, Varun Kumar, Kothajit Singh Khadangbam, Surender Kumar, Amit RohidasMidfielders: Manpreet Singh (Captain), Chinglensana Singh Kangujam (Vice-Captain), Nilakanta Sharma, Hardik Singh, SumitForwards: Akashdeep Singh, Mandeep Singh, Dilpreet Singh, Lalit Kumar Upadhyay, Simranjeet SinghOut of the 18 players in the squad, seven are from the junior World Cup-winning squad, which also clinced the title two years ago in Lucknow under Harendra Singh.Hockey World Cup 2018 Live Streaming: When, Where and How to Watch Online Coverage on Hotstar, Star SportsPlayers like Harmanpreet Singh, Varun Kumar, Sumit, Mandeep Singh and goalkeeper Krishan Bahadur Pathak have been selected in India’s squad.Harendra Singh defended the presence of several junior players saying it’s not a “young team” and they are good enough to creat history.”Constitution gives us the right to marry after 18. So this is not a young team. It’s a team that can create history,” Harendra said on the eve of India’s opening match against South Africa on Wednesday.”You have to have patience. Selectors have considered the young players to be good enough to wear India colours, so we need to be proud of them. Every player in the team understands it. My advice to the players would be to stick to the basics and strategy and consider crowd as 12th man and use their energy,” he [email protected], lays it out that the Indian Team will stick to the basics and put in their best efforts to garner 3 points in their first match of the Odisha Hockey Men’s World Cup Bhubaneswar 2018 against @SA_Hockey. #IndiaKaGame #DilHockey #HWC2018 India (@TheHockeyIndia) November 27, 2018Citing the example of Ireland, who went on to win the women’s World Cup earlier this year despite being rated as underdogs, Harendra said India first aim would be to top Pool C and qualify directly for the quarter-finals.”Did anyone think Ireland will reach women’s hockey World Cup final and Croatia will make it to FIFA WC final. Every team works on their strategy. It’s about that particular day. We want to top the pool and avoid crossovers because then we will get an extra day and know who we will play in the quarters,” the chief coach said.Coach Harendra Singh is under some considerable pressure after the heartbreak at Asian Games wherein favourites India lost to lower-ranked Malaysia in the semi-final before settling for a bronze medal.Harendra said said that the team has forgotten about Asian Games, learnt from it and moved on.”The hard fact is that all of us have forgotten the Asian Games defeat and you should also forget. We learn from history, gain experience but there is no point recalling it. We took collective responsibility. We don’t talk about it now in our meetings, he said.advertisement”The team has put the past behind them and have assimilated all the learning which they could from their @asiangames2018 experience”, says @HarendraSingh66. #IndiaKaGame #HWC2018 #DilHockey India (@TheHockeyIndia) November 27, 2018Ranked 10 places above world no. 15 South Africa, India will go into their tournament-opener as overwhelming favourites.”We understand that the first match is important in every tournament. It releases 40 to 50 per cent of pressure. We want full points from the first match. But for points, we can’t forget and sacrifice the basics of hockey, the strategy,” he said.”We won’t compromise on playing attacking hockey against any team. We want to think ahead of the opponents.”With two matches scheduled for each day, there are significant gaps between matches in the 16-team World Cup and Harendra supported the format, saying it will help all the teams to come out with fresh legs in every game.”I support this format as a coach. Hockey is a fast-paced, result oriented, highly demanding game. It (the gaps) will help us to come out with fresh mind and legs in every match,” he said.Conceding last minute goals has been India’s perennial problem in the last few years but Harendra said it is with all hockey playing nations.”We always discuss India concede last-minute goal to lose. It has happened in the last 4-5 years, including the Asian Games. But that doesn’t only happen with the Indian team. I can give you history where other teams also have lost the same way,” he said.India captain Manpreet Singh too said that their main focus is on topping the pool and avoid cross-overs.”We are not focussing on crossovers. If we top the pool, we should not worry about it. We are focusing on our first match,” he said.”We have improved over the last 3-4 years. Before that we had never won FIH medals but now we have won Hockey World League bronze, then silver at the Champions Trophy (earlier this year). Now it’s the World Cup and we have to show that we have improved at the highest level.(With PTI inputs)Also Read | Hockey World Cup 2018: India hope to end Australia, European dominance in BhubaneswarAlso Read | Hockey World Cup 2018 opens to colourful opening ceremonyAlso Read | India took their eye off the ball: Ric Charlesworth on decline of Indian hockey in 1990sAlso watch –last_img

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