Australian coach Colin Batch
Australian coach Colin Batch

Teams arrive in Odisha ahead of Hockey World Cup

ANI | Updated: Nov 24, 2018 23:54 IST

Bhubaneswar (Odisha) [India], Nov 24 (ANI): Ahead of the upcoming men's Hockey World Cup, teams representing Pakistan, the Netherlands, Australia, and Belgium arrived here on Saturday.
The Netherlands, ranked at number four globally, are grouped in Pool D, being pegged as the 'Pool of Death' with heavyweights like Germany, Pakistan, and Malaysia. Reflecting on the same, the Dutch's head coach Max Caldas asserted: "Bhubaneswar is a great place to be and play hockey in front of an amazing crowd. We are in a tough group with strong teams. We will play Malaysia first and we need to make sure we keep our heads down and play our best every match."
Speaking on the team's excitement to be back in Bhubaneswar, their experienced player Billy Baker said: "We have won almost every match we have played this season and we have also had really tough preparations for the tournament. We are aware of the Bhubaneswar crowd who come in large numbers and we want to enjoy playing in front of them and also use their support to feel motivated."
The Netherlands will begin their campaign on December 1 against Malaysia.
World number three Belgium, too, arrived after their nemesis the Netherlands and shared their anticipation to play at the iconic Kalinga Stadium again.
"We are arriving after three months of solid preparations. We are pretty much trained full time and the preparations were heavy. The guys are really fit and sharp. We are excited to get going," Belgium's skipper Thomas Briels said.
Belgium are grouped with hosts India, Canada, and South Africa in Pool B and will begin their campaign against Canada on November 28.
The neighbours, too, arrived late on Saturday night. Considering the World Cup as the target, Pakistan's coach Tauqeer Dar told reporters: "We are completely prepared. The (Hockey) World Cup is our target and we have been preparing for it from the past 6-8 months. Our team is a combination of both senior and young boys. We have even recalled a few old players because the world cup is quite tough and our group is actually a Pool of Death as it comprises of Germany, Netherlands, Pakistan, and Malaysia and only three teams will qualify."
Wishing all the teams, Dar added, "We have come to play hockey and make people enjoy this sport. I wish good luck to all sixteen teams to make this world cup a success and we want to spread a message to the entire world that India has organised a great world cup."
When quizzed about the India-Pakistan relations, Dar said, "In sports, the relations are good. We have come to play sports, so we have relations in terms of sports, which are pretty good. Our players and their (Indian) players have the sportsman spirit and are even friends. our friendships stay on good terms only. Indian team is quite good. They are also worthy contenders to win the world cup as their team has also improved. I hope they do well."
Pakistan will play their first match against Germany on December 1.
Meanwhile, pleased to have arrived in the state, Australian coach Colin Batch said: "We are very pleased to have arrived here and get ready for the World Cup. We have been preparing as a squad, but like any other team, we are not sure whether we are at our best or not. We haven't seen Ireland for a little while now. With England, we have played some good hockey. Chinese are a bit unknown. So, we will take one game at a time."
Australia will be starting their campaign against Ireland on November 30.
The prestigious men's Hockey World Cup is slated to begin from November 28 to December 16 at Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar in Odisha. (ANI)