Bhubaneswar: The countdown for the mega sports event– Odisha Hockey Men’s World Cup 2018– has started as the star-packed colourful inaugural show is set to get off before 15,000 spectators of Kalinga Hockey Stadium in Bhubaneswar,here on Tuesday.
All the 16 teams have arrived in Bhubaneswar and are warming up for the action in the field. Every match in the tournament will be action packed as world’s top teams to vie for the coveted Hockey Men’s World Cup. The matches which will played in four groups, the team finished top in each group would qualify to play the quarter-finals. Those finished second and third in each groups would play an extra crossover play-off match for their place in the last eight position.
In Pool A: Argentina, New Zealand, Spain, France
Pool B: Australia, England, Ireland, China
Pool C: Belgium, India, Canada and South Africa
Pool D: Netherlands, Germany, Malaysia, Pakistan
Wednesday, 28 November
Match 1 – Pool C – 5 pm – Belgium Vs Canada
Match 2 – Pool C – 7 pm – India Vs South Africa
Thursday, 29 November
Match 3 – Pool A – 5 pm – Argentina Vs Spain
Match 4-Pool A-7pm -New Zealand Vs France
Friday, 30 November
Match 5 – Pool B – 5 pm – Australia Vs Ireland
Match6- Pool B-7pm-England Vs China
Saturday, 1 December
Match 7 – Pool D – 5 pm – Netherland Vs Malaysia
Match 8 – Pool D – 5 pm – Germany Vs Pakistan
Sunday, 2 December
Match 9 – Pool C – 5 pm – Canada Vs South Africa
Match 1 0-Pool C- 7pm -India Vs Belgium
Monday, 3 December
Match 11 – Pool A – 5 pm – Spain Vs France
Match 12 – Pool A- 7pm – New Zealand Vs Argentina
Tuesday, 4 December
Match 13 – Pool B – 5 pm – England Vs Australia
Match 14 – Pool B – 5 pm – Ireland Vs China
Wednesday, 5 December
Match 15 – Pool D – 5 pm – Germany Vs Netherlands
Match 16 – Pool D – 5 pm – Malaysia Vs Pakistan
Thursday, 6 December
Match 17 – Pool A – 5 pm – Spain Vs New Zealand
Match 18 – Pool A – 7 pm – Argentina Vs France
Friday, 7 December
Match 19 – Pool B – 5 pm – Australia vs China
Match 20 – Pool B – 7 pm – Ireland vs England
Saturday, 8 December
Match 21 – Pool C – 5 pm – Belgium Vs South Africa
Match 22 – Pool C – 7 pm – Canada Vs India
Sunday, 9 December
Match 23 – Pool D – 5 pm – Malaysia Vs Germany
Match 24 – Pool D – 7 pm – Netherlands Vs Pakistan
Monday, 10 December
Match 25 – Crossover – 4:45 pm – 2nd Pool A vs 3rd Pool B
Match 26 – Crossover – 7 pm – 2nd Pool B vs 3rd Pool A
Tuesday, 11 December
Match 27 – Crossover – 4:45 pm – 2nd Pool C Vs 3rd Pool D
Match 28 – Crossover – 7 pm – 2nd Pool D Vs 3rd Pool C
Wednesday, 12 December
Match 29 – Quarterfinal – 4:45 pm – 1st Pool A Vs Winner Match 26
Match 30 – Quarterfinal – 7 pm – 1st Pool B Vs Winner Match 25
Thursday, 13 December
Match 31 – Quarterfinal – 4:45 pm – 1st Pool C Vs Winner Match 28
Match 32 – Quarterfinal – 7 pm – 1st Pool D Vs Winner Match 27
Friday 14 December -Rest Day
Saturday, 15 December
Match 33 – Semifinal – 4 pm – Winner Match 29 Vs Winner Match 32
Match 34 – Semifinal – 6:30 pm – Winner Match 30 Vs Winner Match 31
Sunday, 16 December
Match 35 – 3rd/4th place playoff – 4:30 pm – Loser Match 33 Vs Loser Match 34
Match 36 – Final – 7 pm – Winner Match 33 Vs Winner Match 34.
While Olympic champions Argentina will rightly be regarded as the hot favourites to win Pool A, they will certainly not it all their own way. Los Leones (The Lions) are blessed with some wonderful player, with Lucas Vila being one of the best attackers around while Gonzalo Peillat is quite possibly the finest penalty corner drag-flicker in the game. That said, all three of the other teams in Pool A are capable of upsetting the Pan-American champions.
Spain Head Coach Frederic Soyez has stated that his team are capable of challenging for the medal positions, and his squad selection more than justifies that optimism. Vast experience comes from 200-capped athletes such as goalkeeper Quico Cortes, Sergi Enrique, Miguel Delas and Pau Quemada, while the outrageously gifted young attacker Enrique Gonzales is certainly a player capable of hurting any opponent. New Zealand’s Black Sticks are another team containing plenty of world level experience, with team captain Blair Tarrant well aware that his team can match anyone on their day, whilst France – lead by towering defender and penalty corner expert Victor Charlet – will be keen to make the most of their first World Cup in 28 years.
Pool B: Australia (WR:1), England (WR:7), Ireland (WR:10) & China (WR:17)
Back at the top of the FIH Hero World Rankings after being briefly usurped by Argentina, Australia’s Kookaburras are searching for a third successive World Cup triumph following their stunning victories in Delhi (2010) and The Hague (2014). Their recent record in India is impressive, especially in Bhubaneswar, having claimed the title there at last year’s Hockey World League Final. Jake Whetton, Trent Mitton, Jeremy Hayward and Blake Govers are all regular goal-scorers for the title holders. It will take a very special team to stop the side coached by former Kookaburra and 1986 World Cup winner Colin Batch.
England Head Coach Danny Kerry will certainly do everything in his power to implement a plan to overcome the Australians – he did something similar at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games when he guided Great Britain’s women to gold by defeating the top ranked Netherlands team. The 400+ capped Barry Middleton remains a hugely influential player for England, while prolific striker Sam Ward gives the team a cutting edge up front. Ireland’s Green Machine, who return to World Cup action for the first time since 1990, have proven in recent years that they cannot be underestimated. The 2015 European bronze medallists have a world class goalkeeper in David Harte, while Shane O’Donoghue is a dynamo at the heart of the midfield. For China, this is their first ever appearance at a men’s World Cup and find themselves facing stiff opposition. However, if penalty corner expert Du Talake is firing then they have every chance of upsetting the odds.
Pool C: Belgium (WR:3), India (WR:5), Canada (WR:11) & South Africa (WR:15)
An Olympic silver medal claimed at Rio 2016 means that Belgium’s Red Lions will be regarded by many as the team to beat in Pool C. A dramatic rise up the rankings in recent years sees them now rated as the third best team in the world. They blessed with numerous truly world class individuals including Rio 2016 silver medallists Cedric Charlier, Tom Boon, John-John Dohmen, Thomas Briels, Simon Gougnard, Felix Denayer, Arthur Van Doren and Vincent Vanasch, the latter two being named the respective Men’s Player and Goalkeeper of the Goalkeeper of the Year for 2017 at the FIH Hockey Stars Awards. With so much talent at their disposal, Belgium should be regarded as serious contenders for the title.
However, topping Pool C will certainly not be a simple task for Belgium. Host nation India will be powered on by huge crowds during all of their matches, with Head Coach Harendra Singh keen to lead the senior side to World Cup glory as he did with the Indian U-21 team at the Junior World Cup in Lucknow two years ago. Many of those up and coming players have been selected for the senior side, with Harmanpreet Singh, Varun Kumar, Sumit, Nilakanta Sharma, Simranjeet Singh and Mandeep Singh all chosen to represent the nation on this incredible stage. Canada, captained by defensive rock Scott Tupper, have regularly proven themselves against supposedly superior opposition and will be looking to do so once again in Bhubaneswar, as will African champions South Africa and their talismanic defender Austin Smith.
Pool D: Netherlands (WR:4), Germany (WR:6), Malaysia (WR:12) & Pakistan (WR:13)
While Netherlands and Germany are widely expected to be front-runners for that all-important first place finish, Pool D certainly has the potential to be unpredictable. The Dutch are the pool’s highest ranked team and the reigning European champions, with Head Coach Max Caldas getting the best out of a talented group that many believe has the potential to lift the trophy in Bhubaneswar. They have numerous world class individuals amongst their ranks including star midfielders Billy Bakker and Robbert Kemperman, while brilliant goal-scorer Mirco Pruijser, resurgent attacker Jeroen Hertzberger and penalty corner expert Mink van der Weerden are all capable of producing game-changing moments.
Germany are another team with quality in abundance. Florian Fuchs and Christopher Rühr are world class attackers, as is rising star Timm Herzbruch, who will be keen to show his exceptional abilities after a lengthy injury lay-off. Behind the forward line are some exceptional midfielders including Tobias Hauke and Mats Grambusch, while team captain Martin Häner is a rock at the heart of the team’s defence. Challenging the Netherlands and Germany are Malaysia and Pakistan, two teams that are not exactly short of talent themselves. Faizal Saari is a wonderful attacking midfielder for a Malaysia team now being coached by Roelant Oltmans, the Dutchman whose numerous accolades include winning World Cups with both the Netherlands women (1990) and men (1998). Four times World Champions Pakistan are another team with great talent and the ability to cause an upset. Green Shirts captain Muhammad Rizwan Sr will be single-minded in his ambition to ensure that his side performs to the best of their abilities in Bhubaneswar.
The Odisha Hockey Men’s World Cup Bhubaneswar 2018 will kick off on 28 November and end on 16 December. The Men’s World Cup is played every four years.