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March 14, 2018

Pakistan face tough task in hockey World Cup

Sports

March 14, 2018

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan faces a tough ask even to make it to the quarter-finals of the Odisha Hockey Men’s World Cup starting in Bhubaneswar (India) from November 28.

Only a shadow of the past brilliance, four-time world champions Pakistan (World Ranking 13) have been placed alongside European title holders and three time world champions the Netherlands (WR:4), two times world champions Germany (WR:5) and Malaysia (WR:12) in Group D. Over the course of the nineteen-day competition sixteen of the world’s best men’s international hockey teams will take to the field at the 16,000 capacity Kalinga Stadium, a venue that is currently undergoing extensive refurbishment in preparation for what is certain to be a spectacular event both on and off the field.

The 16 teams have been split into four pools of four, with Rio 2016 Olympic champions Argentina (current FIH Hero World Ranking: 2) competing in Pool A alongside New Zealand (WR: 9), Spain (WR:8) and France (WR:18). Reigning world champions Australia (WR: 1) take on England (WR:7), Ireland (WR:10) and China (WR:17) in Pool B.

Rio 2016 Olympic silver medalists Belgium (WR:3) will compete in Pool C alongside home favourites and 1975 world champions India (WR:6), Canada (WR:11) and African continental champions South Africa (WR:15), The pool phase of the competition will take place from Wednesday 28 November to Sunday 9 December. A first place finish in each pool will guarantee a berth in the quarter-finals, with the second and third place finishers in each pool needing to win a cross-over match, which will be played on Monday 10 and Tuesday 11 December, in order to reach the last eight. The quarter-finals will take place on Wednesday 12 and Thursday 13 December.

Pakistan are to play their first match against Germany on December 1 and are to face Malaysia on December 5. Their last pool match will be against the Netherlands on December 9. All three other teams in Pakistan pool are ranked higher. Before going into the World Cup, Pakistan team however will have to face many other challenges including concluding Champions Trophy, Asian Games and forthcoming Commonwealth Games in Australia.

Pakistan have been grouped alongside Malaysia, India and England in Commonwealth Games and have to beat at least two of these two teams to make it to semis.Odisha Hockey Men’s World Cup Bhubaneswar 2018 - Pools

Pool A: Argentina, New Zealand, Spain, France

Pool B: Australia, England, Ireland, China

Pool C: Belgium, India, Canada, South Africa

Pool D: Netherlands, Germany, Malaysia, Pakistan.

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