India plays host to Germany and Australia to revive its battle for ascendancy
India will try to put behind World Cup performance as it resumes its at home campaign in FIH Pro League.
When the FIH Hockey Pro League is resumed later this week, the hosts India will try to put behind its dismal performance in the just concluded FIH Odisha Hockey Men’s World Cup and put up an improved display in its endeavour to qualify for the 2024 Olympic Games.
India will be under the command of a new coach from South Africa when it takes on World champions Germany and Australia in its FIH Hockey Pro League games at Birsa Munda stadium in Rourkela from March 10. All six matches will be played during this round of the FIH Pro League.
Meanwhile, the Indian and Australian teams have already arrived in Rourkela for the upcoming FIH Hockey Pro League games, which will commence on March 10.
Speaking ahead of the FIH Hockey Pro League 2022/23, the Indian captain Harmanpreet Singh said that the team was delighted to be back in Rourkela. He said, “It is good to be back in Odisha. The team is excited to play in Rourkela, where the fans are so passionate about Hockey. Moreover, the newly built Birsa Munda Hockey Stadium in the city boasts of world-class facilities, which will definitely help us step our preparations up a notch.”
“We hope to put up an impressive show as we gear up for the challenge of playing against two top teams – Australia and Germany,” the ace drag flicker added.
Last year in October, at the FIH Hockey Pro League, India played at the Kalinga Stadium. The Indian team kicked off its campaign with a superb 4-3 and 7-4 win against New Zealand, followed by a 3-2 loss and a 2-2 draw against Spain.
Meanwhile, the Australian Coach, Colin Batch, said that he was excited to play in Rourkela, where he was expecting big crowds.
“It’s nice to be back in India. We are pleased to play in the wonderful stadium in Rourkela and we are expecting big crowds here as we understand that the tickets have been selling well which is very exciting for the group,” Batch said.
Batch also revealed that the Australian team has some injury concerns due to which many youngsters are likely to get a chance to play. “We have a very different team from what we had in the recently concluded Hockey World Cup. We are going through a development stage currently. We still want to play well and do well in the tournament, but we have some injuries which were unavoidable after the World Cup. So, it’s about giving opportunities and international exposure to some youngsters and we’ll see what they are capable of,” the former Australian hockey player said.
Talking about the challenge of taking on India and Germany, Batch said, “Playing against World Champions Germany will be the real test for us and facing the Indian team at home will be difficult. However, the experience of playing in India in front of the big crowd will be fantastic for the group.”
Going by the league format, Rourkela will host six matches, where the three teams will play each other twice. India will clash with Germany in the first match on March 10 and their second match against Germany will be played on March 13. India will take on Australia, the reigning Commonwealth Games Champions, on March 12 and 15.