~ Captain Harmanpreet Singh expressed his team’s excitement upon arriving in Odisha;
the hosts will take on Spain in their opening match on 13th January ~
The Indian Men’s Hockey Team arrived on Tuesday in Odisha nearly two weeks ahead of their opening match at the much-awaited FIH Odisha Hockey Men’s World Cup 2023 Bhubaneswar-Rourkela. Led by Captain Harmanpreet Singh, the Indian team first landed in Bhubaneswar at the Biju Patnaik International Airport before making their way to the Veer Surendra Sai Airport, Jharsuguda. From the Jharsuguda airport, the team, along with Indian Men’s Hockey Team Chief Coach Graham Reid travelled to Rourkela, where they will go through the final preparations.
Upon their arrival, the Indian Men’s Hockey Team received a warm reception from the fans who had gathered in large numbers outside both airports to welcome the team. Speaking on the mood and atmosphere in Odisha ahead of the tournament, Chief Coach Graham Reid said, “Odisha is like our second home and we are very happy to be back here. We are looking forward to the next two weeks here in Rourkela and will be going through final touches to our game. We are well-prepared for the challenge and expect the pitch conditions to be similar to that of Bhubaneswar.”
The Indian Men’s Hockey Team, are placed in Pool D, along with Spain, England, and Wales. Following their match against Spain on the first day of the competition, India will play England on Sunday, January 15th, in Rourkela, followed by their final group encounter against Wales on Thursday, January 19th in Bhubaneswar. All of India’s group-stage matches will start at 1900 hours IST.
“We haven’t played in Rourkela yet but I think it is a wonderful opportunity for the team to be playing in front of such passionate hockey fans in this region. We are all looking forward to our first match here,” Reid added.
The 16 teams competing in the tournament are Australia, Belgium, the Netherlands, India, Argentina, Germany, New Zealand, England, France, Korea, Malaysia, Spain, South Africa, Japan, Chile, and Wales.
Indian Men’s Hockey Team Captain Harmanpreet Singh expressed the mood among his teammates on arriving in Rourkela. “Most of us have never played in Rourkela before but we have heard so much about the hockey fans of this region through our teammates from Sundergarh. To know that tickets for India matches were sold out within 24 hours of box office sales opening just goes to show the excitement ahead of the tournament. We are all quite thrilled to finally arrive in Odisha and see the incredible new stadium in Rourkela and the world-class facilities provided for teams,” Harmanpreet said upon arriving in Jharsugda.
Harmanpreet further opened up on the team’s preparations ahead of the tournament and spoke on a home-ground factor that will help the Indian team. “Playing in front of a packed stadium is something we need to use to our advantage. We won’t be able to hear the on-field calls etc and these are the things we will be going through in the upcoming days ahead of our first match. We are used to such conditions in Bhubaneswar where we recently played the Pro League matches.”
“In all, the next fortnight is going to be super exciting and we are eagerly looking forward to this challenge,” signed off the ace drag-flicker.