Xtra Time Web Desk: The anticipation among hockey fans in India is at an all-time high as the Indian Men’s Hockey Team start their FIH Odisha Hockey Men’s World Cup 2023 Bhubaneswar-Rourkela campaign against Spain on Friday at the stellar new Birsa Munda Hockey Stadium in Rourkela.
Led by star drag-flicker Harmanpreet Singh, the Indian Men’s Hockey Team are geared up for a close contest against Spain. Statistically speaking, India have registered 14 wins against the Spain Men’s Hockey Team till date, while they lost 11 and drew five.
Both teams have also recently played two matches in the FIH Hockey Pro League where the Spain Men’s Hockey Team won the first encounter 3-2, while India registered a 3-1 (2-2) win in a shootout in the second match.
The Indian Captain was brimming with confidence ahead of the opening match, which will be played in front of packed Rourkela audience, and stated that it will important to get off on a winning note. Harmanpreet said, “India and Spain played exciting matches in the FIH Hockey Pro League a few months back. We played aggressive and tactical hockey in those matches and our strategy is to continue the way we have been performing in the build-up to the tournament.”
He added, “The team is extremely determined to do well and end the World Cup jinx. Ahead of the Olympic Games too, every single player in the team believed that we can finish on the podium and this time too, we begin the tournament with that same enthusiasm and determination.”
Being entrusted with the responsibility of leading the team in the marquee event, Harmanpreet said he enjoys the responsibility and also calls on advice from senior compatriots in the leadership group. He said, “I feel no pressure to lead the side as I know there are players with enough experience whom I can turn to when needed, also the way we have prepared gives us confidence of a good show. The team also played two practice matches against New Zealand and Netherlands, and ready for the challenge.”
Meanwhile, the Chief Coach of the Indian Men’s Hockey Team Graham Reid praised the atmosphere in Rourkela and stated that there is a sense of excitement around among his players as well ahead of the big tournament.
“The new stadium and facilities here in Rourkela are amazing. Everything feels great and the players are excited for the first match of the tournament. All the players are feeling positive about the tournament and we will look to do what we have been doing for the last few months.”