India get stiff Belgium test at Hockey World Cup
New Delhi: India have been placed in Pool C alongside Belgium, Canada and South Africa for the Hockey Men’s World Cup in Bhubaneswar. The pools and match schedule was announced on Wednesday with the tournament beginning November 28 and the final to be played on December 16.
India will get a tough test from Rio 2016 Olympics silver medallists Belgium, currently ranked third in the world, in the Pool C alongside Canada (ranked 11) and African continental champions South Africa. In the other groups, Rio 2016 Olympic champions Argentina, ranked second in the world, will compete against New Zealand, Spain and France in Pool A. Reigning world champions Australia, top-ranked side, will face England, Ireland and China in Pool B. The final group, comprises three-time world champions Netherlands, two-time champions Germany, Malaysia and four-time champions Pakistan in a tough looking Pool D.
The tournament sees 15 teams qualifying for the World Cup alongside hosts India with the tournament to be played at the Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar. The tournament begins on November 28 with the pool stages going on till December 9 with the matches to be played at 5 PM and 7 PM time slots. The World Cup gets underway with Belgium playing Canada before India take the pitch to face South Africa.
Among the eye-catching contests including a mouth-watering Pool D clash between two former world champions in Germany and Pakistan on December 1, then Asia Cup champions India taking on European giants Belgium on December 2 and England looking to upsurge the mighty Australia on December 4.
The top-placed team from each pool will earn an automatic berth for the Quarter-Finals with the second and third placed teams competing in a cross-over match, which will be played on December 10 and 11, in order to reach the last-eight.
Odisha and Kalinga Stadium have become almost an epicentre for hockey in India having hosted the 2014 Champions Trophy and Men’s Hockey World League Final last year.