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‘Playing at home is great opportunity,’ says Team India captain Harmanpreet Singh ahead of Hockey World Cup 2023 | Other Sports News

With India to take on Spain in their first encounter of FIH Men’s Hockey World Cup campaign on Friday, Indian captain Harmanpreet Singh said the marquee tournament comes once in every four years and being able to play in the home country in front of a supportive home crowd and conditions is a great opportunity for the team. Men’s Hockey World Cup will start from January 13 in Odisha. India are placed in Pool D along with England, Wales and Spain. Team India will start its campaign against Spain on Friday at Birsa Munda International Hockey Stadium in Rourkela.

“World Cup comes once in every four years. To play on home soil with the support of your home crowd, in your home conditions is a great opportunity for the side,” said the skipper during a pre-match press conference.

“The plan is to continue doing what we are doing good. We have read and analysed our opponents well in the team meeting. We have worked on the mistakes made previously,” he added.

The captain lauded the Birsa Munda International Hockey Stadium, a venue built to host the tournament, and said it is “one of the best” venues he has seen in his career and that many in his team share the same opinion.

“Both the stadium and atmosphere is great. We are very excited. We had the advantage of practicing here before others since we are the home team and we are really excited to see the home crowd,” added Harmanpreet.

The skipper said that most of the matches of his team are in the evening and his side has practiced accordingly. On expectations from him as a drag-flicker, Harmanpreet said that hockey is a team game.

“Others are there to support us. We have other good drag flickers as well,” added the skipper.

Harmanpreet said that the home crowd will turn out in large numbers to cheer them but the team will have to maintain their focus. Indian team head coach Graham Reid also praised the facilities and infrastructure made in the state for the tournament.

“The stadium is unbelievable. Facilities are world-class, look at the changing room, then you come to turf and field, which is great. Whatever has been achieved in the last 15 months is incredible. We are happy with the pitch, it is not much different from Bhubaneswar. There are some senior players like PR Sreejesh, who is playing his fourth World Cup and it is his third at home. We came here on December 27 and have been training, living in the World Cup village. The boys are excited and ready to go,” said the coach.

The coach said that the home crowd support is a double-edged sword because it feels good, but one also needs to maintain focus and stick to strategies. The Men`s Hockey World Cup 2023 will go on from January 13 to January 29. India will be looking forward to a podium position finish this time after a quarterfinal finish in the 2018 edition of the tournament, where they lost to the Netherlands.

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