India is geared up to host the Men’s Hockey World Cup 2023, which commenced on January 13. A total of 16 countries will feature in the tournament with matches at two venues in Odisha – the Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar, and the Birsa Munda International Hockey Stadium in Rourkela.
In 1975, when India won its only World Cup, the team was world-beater. In 2023, after barren World Cup appearances spread across almost five decades, hope is the only familiar aspect. India, coached by Australia Graham Reid, are in Pool D, along with Spain, England and Wales. India opened their campaign with two matches in Rourkela against Spain and England before moving to Bhubaneswar to face Wales in their final pool clash.
As per reports, the Odisha government spent Rs 1100 crore for hosting the grand event this year, 16 times more than Rs 67 crore, which was spent in 2018, when Odisha hosted its first ever Hockey World Cup. Bhubaneswar will also host the knockout stages of the tournament, with the final scheduled on January 29, while the semi-finals will be played on January 27.
India last won the World Cup medal-a Gold- way back in 1975 at Kuala Lumpur and since then they have never got near the podium. Defender and drag-flick specialist Harmanpreet Singh will lead the hosts at the tournament, having taken over the reins from Manpreet Singh last year.
Since winning the World Cup in 1975, the Indian men have never finished in the top four. In the previous edition, India lost to the Netherlands in the quarterfinals, conceding a fourth-quarter goal to lose 2-1. India had, in fact, topped their pool in 2018, which was a creditable achievement in a section that had eventual champions Belgium in it.
The Star Sports Network will broadcast all the matches on TV in India. The live streaming of the games will be available on Disney+ Hotstar.