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Sports

March 14, 2018

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Life could be hard for Pakistan in Pool D

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

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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, two-time world champions Germany and Malaysia in Pool D.

Over the course of the nineteen-day competition, sixteen of the world’s best men’s 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 divided into four pools of four, with Rio 2016 Olympic champions Argentina (current FIH World Ranking 2) competing in Pool A alongside New Zealand (9th), Spain (8th) and France (18th). Reigning world champions Australia (1st) take on England (7th), Ireland (10th) and China (17th) in Pool B.

Rio 2016 Olympic silver medalists Belgium (3rd) will compete in Pool C alongside home favourites and 1975 world champions India (6th), Canada (11th) and African continental champions South Africa (15th).

The pool phase of the competition will take place from November 28 to December 9.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 December 10 and 11, to reach the last eight. The quarter-finals will take place on December 12 and 13.

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 the 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 the semi-finals.

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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