No team can be taken lightly in hockey WC: India coach

Ipoh [Malaysia]: As the International Hockey Federation (FIH) announced the schedule for the 2018 hockey World Cup, India head coach Sjoerd Marijne emphasised on the importance of winning every single match.

“It is the World Cup and every team will come with the intention of winning. So, we can never say we are in a favorable pool or a tough pool. We need to respect every opponent and World Rankings don’t matter in a World Cup. We need to focus on ourselves and ensure we win every single match if we want to win the Cup,” stated Marijne.

India is grouped in Pool C with South Africa, Canada and Olympic Silver Medalists Belgium for the World Cup to be held in Bhubaneswar from November 28 to December 16.

India will start the tournament with their opening match against South Africa on November 28 and will play their second match on December 2 against Belgium.

The hosts will play Canada, against whom they had lost 2-3 in the Hockey World League Semi Final in London last year, in their last Pool C match on December 8.

“Belgium is one of the strongest teams in the world and we have shown that we can beat them (at the Odisha Men’s Hockey World League Final Bhubaneswar 2017 and the recent New Zealand Tour). In December too, it will be a close match and people in Bhubaneswar will love it. But like I said, we can’t be complacent about any team,” Marijne added.

The Indian team is presently in Ipoh, Malaysia for the prestigious 27th Sultan Azlan Shah Cup where they play Argentina in their opening match on March 3.

While the team’s focus is on performing well at this coveted event, Marijne said, his team will need to peak in every major tournament this year.

“There are many more tournaments this year where the team will need to peak and bring out their best performance. We are not looking at peaking at just one particular tournament but there is Asian Games and also Champions Trophy before the Odisha Hockey Men’s World Cup Bhubaneswar 2018. Every tournament we need to be at our best and we use that performance as a stepping stone for the next one,” he said. (ANI)