India to clash against Pakistan in Champions Trophy hockey opener

After the Pakistan tie, India will play Argentina on June 24, followed by games against Australia on June 27, and Belgium on June 28.

The arch rivals clash in a high-octane opener on June 23 in Breda, Netherlands. (File Photo)   -  PTI

Arch-rivals India and Pakistan will lock horns in a high-profile opening match of the men’s Champions Trophy hockey tournament in Breda, Netherlands on June 23.

As per the schedule, announced by the International Hockey Federation (FIH) on Thursday, besides the India-Pakistan tie, there will be two more games on the first day of the event, to be held from June 23 to July 1.

The India-Pakistan match will be followed by a clash between host and European champion Netherlands and 2016 Olympic gold medallist Argentina; while reigning World Cup, World League and Champions Trophy title holder Australia will face Rio Olympic silver medallist Belgium in the last game of the day.

In line with the event qualification criteria, Netherlands, Argentina and Australia qualified for this event automatically, while the other three nations were invited by the FIH Executive Board.

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The competition in Breda is notable for many reasons, not least for the fact that it will be the last ever men’s edition of the event with an illustrious history. This heritage is reflected in the opening match, which features one of the biggest rivalries in the sport.

Pakistan, the country that launched the hockey Champions Trophy, back in 1978, take on arch-rival and Asian champion India. It is a fixture that is sure to draw thousands of spectators to the venue, as well as millions of fans tuning in from across the world, eagerly anticipating the latest episode of this long-running battle between two of the sport’s most successful nations.

After the Pakistan tie, India will play Argentina on June 24, followed by games against Australia on June 27, and Belgium on June 28. Over nine days of action, which includes a rest day on June 25, all teams will be focused on reaching the final, which will be played on July 1, with the other classification matches being played earlier in the day.

This will be one of the last opportunities for these teams to play against one another competitively, before the end of year men’s World Cup, to be held in Bhubaneswar from November 28 to December 16.

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