India to face South Africa in their opening match of Odisha Hockey World Cup

NetIndian News Network

New Delhi, February 28, 2018

Hosts India will take on South Africa in their opening match of the Odisha Hockey World Cup to be played in Bhubaneswar from November 28 to December 16.
Over the course of the 19-day competition, 16 of the world’s best men’s international hockey teams will take to the field at the 16,000 capacity Kalinga Stadium, a venue that is currently undergoing extensive refurbishment in preparation for what is certain to be a spectacular event both on and off the field.
The Odisha Hockey Men’s World Cup Bhubaneswar 2018 will see 15 qualifying nations join hosts India in the race for the title. The host nation will be joined by teams who qualified thanks to their performances either at the last year’s Hockey World League Semi-Finals competitions in London and Johannesburg or by being crowned as continental champions.
The 16 teams have been split into four pools of four each, with Rio 2016 Olympic champions Argentina (current FIH Hero World Ranking: 2) competing in Pool A alongside New Zealand (WR: 9), Spain (WR:8) and France (WR:18), while reigning world champions Australia (WR: 1) take on England (WR:7), Ireland (WR:10) and China (WR:17) in Pool B.
Rio 2016 Olympic silver medallists Belgium (WR:3) will compete in Pool C alongside home favourites and 1975 world champions India (WR:6), Canada (WR:11) and African continental champions South Africa (WR:15), with European title holders and three time world champions the Netherlands (WR:4) taking on two-time champions Germany (WR:5), Malaysia (WR:12) and Pakistan (WR:13), World Cup winners in 1971, 1978, 1982, 1994, in a tough looking Pool D.
The pool phase of the competition will take place from Wednesday 28 November to Sunday 9 December. Each day of action will be pool focused, with the opening day’s play featuring two matches in Pool C as Shane McLeod’s Belgium take on Canada before host nation India target a winning start when they face South Africa.
There are numerous eye-catching fixtures in the pool phase, including the mouth-watering Pool D meeting between two former world champions in Germany and Pakistan on Saturday 1 December, Asia champions India taking on European giants Belgium on Sunday 2 December and England aiming to upset the odds against the mighty Kookaburras of Australia on Tuesday 4 December.
A first place finish in each pool will guarantee a berth in the quarter-finals, with the second and third place finishers in each pool needing to win a cross-over match, which will be played on Monday 10 and Tuesday 11 December, in order to reach the last eight. The quarter-finals will take place on Wednesday 12 and Thursday 13 December.
Following a rest day on Friday 14 December, a huge weekend of action will take place. The semi-finals will be played on Saturday 15 December, with the bronze medal match and the showpiece final scheduled for Sunday 16 December.
The teams:
Pool A: Argentina, New Zealand, Spain, France
Pool B: Australia, England, Ireland, China
Pool C: Belgium, India, Canada, South Africa
Pool D: Netherlands, Germany, Malaysia, Pakistan
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