The Indian junior men’s hockey team will aim to kick off its World Cup 2023 campaign in Malaysia on a winning note when it takes on its Asian counterpart, Korea, in the first match in Pool C at the National Hockey Stadium in Bukit Jalil, Kuala Lumpur, on Tuesday. India will begin its campaign against Korea on Tuesday.
The team will enter the clash with a lot of confidence as it has a better head-to-head record against Korea. Out of the six matches played between the two teams, India won three, while Korea emerged victorious twice with one match ending in a draw.
The last time both teams faced each other was during the semifinal of the men’s junior Asia Cup held earlier this year where India registered a massive 9-1 win over Korea.
Speaking ahead of the opening game, skipper Uttam Singh said, “The wait is finally over for the World Cup, and we are very much confident of a good start. We recently played against Korea, so we are aware of the challenge, but the focus will be on us, on executing our plans, and playing good hockey.”
Coach C R Kumar however warned the side against complecancy. “The players have worked hard, and are fully prepared for the tournament. Korea are a quality side, you can’t take them lightly. We have to respect every opponent, it is a bigger stage, so we will have to be cautious and back our strengths to get a good start in the tournament,” Kumar said.
India, the two-time junior World Champion will then face Spain on the December 7 and Canada on the December 9. A top-two finish in the pool stage will ensure a place in the quarterfinals.
Uttam, who was part of the Indian team’s fourth-place finish at the men’s Junior World Cup in Bhubaneswar in 2021 stated that the team is focussed on playing one match at a time. “As always, our focus has been to go match-by-match, and our priority is to get a winning start and then focus on the following matches to proceed to the next stage of the tournament,” he said.
The knockout stage of the tournament will begin on December 12th.
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