by Elton Gomes
The 14th edition of Hockey World Cup 2018 is set to take place in Bhubaneswar, Odisha, India. The competition will start on November 28, 2018, till December 16, 2018, and a total of 16 teams will participate in the tournament, which has been divided into groups of four.
India have been placed in Group C, along with Belgium, Canada, and South Africa. Midfielder Manpreet Singh will lead the Indian contingent as the captain, while Chinglensana Singh Kangujam will lead as his second-in-command.
Harendra Singh has been named as coach of the Indian hockey team. All matches in the tournament will be played at Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar, Odisha.
India’s team and schedule
Hosts India begin their campaign against the 15th-ranked South Africa on the opening day. The Indian squad features PR Sreejesh and Kishan Bahadur Pathak as goalkeepers, while defender Birendra Lakra has been called on after missing the Hero Asian Champions Trophy in Muscat last month. Lakra is now fully fit after a nagging knee injury.
The squad also features Amit Rohidas, Surender Kumar, Kothajit Singh, Varun Kumar, and Harmanpreet Singh. The Indian attack will be bolstered by the services of Akashdeep Singh, Dilpreet Singh, Lalit Upadhyay, Mandeep Singh, and Simranjeet Singh.
In order to qualify for the quarter-finals, India will have top Group C, which comprises World No.3 Belgium, Canada, and South Africa. The entire schedule for the 2018 Hockey World Cup can be found here.
Most successful teams
In the inaugural edition of the competition in 1971, Pakistan emerged as victors after defeating hosts Spain in the final.
The Indian hockey team has had a glorious past, with as many as 8 Olympic Gold medals in their kitty – this remains a record till date. However, India’s form in the World Cup has been poor. They have won the tournament only once in 1975 in Malaysia.
In 1973, India managed to reach the finals, but were unable to win it. In the maiden edition of the tournament, India finished third, after losing to Pakistan in the semifinals. In the last ten editions of the tournament, India has failed to win a single medal.
Netherlands is one of the top hockey nations from Europe. They have won the tournament three times, but have failed to win the title in the last couple of decades. The Netherlands will surely look to reclaim the World Cup crown after a gap of 20 years.
Having won four World Cup titles, Pakistan is the most successful team in the history of the tournament. In the 1970s and 1980s, Pakistan were the best hockey team in the world. During this period, Pakistan clinched 3 of their 4 titles. However, in recent times, they have failed to win a single medal in the tournament.
India defeat Argentina 5-0 in warm-up match
The Indian hockey team got the perfect start to World Cup. India defeated reigning Olympic champions Argentina 5-0 in its first warm-up match on Friday.
Harmanpreet Singh, Lalit Upadhyay, Dilpreet, Nilakanta Sharma, and Hardik Singh found themselves on the scoresheet for India, while Argentina could only draw a blank. The first and the third goals came through penalty corners, while the rest were field goals.
Elton Gomes is a staff writer at Qrius