The Indian junior hockey team is gearing up for their World Cup preparations, starting with a four-nation tournament. Their first match will be against Spain on Friday, followed by matches against host Germany on August 19 and England two days later. The final will be held on August 22, featuring the top two teams from the tournament.
The team earned qualification for the upcoming Junior World Cup in Kuala Lumpur by emerging victorious in the Junior Asia Cup held in Oman in June. They clinched the title by defeating arch-rivals Pakistan 2-1 in the final, securing their fourth continental championship.
“We have strong and experienced players in our squad, and we will hope to continue to perform in the same vein we have done in recent tournaments,” Vishnukant stated in a Hockey India release.
“It will be important for us to get favourable results to gain confidence. The tournament is a good opportunity for us to continue our growth and to gain experience of competing against some of the best teams in Europe, ahead of the all-important World Cup.”
Vishnukant Singh will lead the team in the absence of Uttam Singh, who is sidelined due to an injury sustained during the training camp. Despite this setback, the team’s captain expressed confidence in the squad’s experienced players and their ability to maintain their strong momentum.
The upcoming tournament holds significance as it provides an opportunity for India to continue their progress and redemption against Spain. In their previous encounter, Spain had defeated India 3-1 in an Under-21 tournament held in Madrid in 2019. However, India has a favorable recent record against Spain, winning three out of four meetings since 2016.
“Spain, Germany and England are all strong teams and we have closely followed their past few games,” head coach CR Kumar stated.
“Our primary focus will remain on implementing our plans and playing according to our strengths.”
“We have worked on certain areas at the camp where we needed to improve upon, and we will stick to our strategies to get positive results on the tour,” he attached.
In their most recent meeting at the Junior World Cup in Bhubaneswar 2021, India suffered a 2-4 defeat against Spain. Their match against England will mark their first encounter since India’s 5-3 victory in the Junior World Cup held in Lucknow in 2016. The two teams have faced each other only a few times since 2013.
The schedule for India’s matches in the tournament is as follows:
- August 18: India vs. Spain at 2:30 pm
- August 19: India vs. Germany at 10:30 pm
- August 21: India vs. England at 1:30 pm
The tournament provides a valuable platform for the Indian junior hockey team to fine-tune their strategies and showcase their skills as they prepare for the Junior World Cup later in the year.
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