Kalinga Stadium hosts a Hockey World Cup to remember

From Belgium winning the trophy to the mighty Australians being denied a hat-trick of titles, here are five highlights from the 14th edition of the Hockey World Cup.

Belgium claimed its maiden Hockey World Cup title.   -  GETTY IMAGES

The 14th edition of the Hockey World Cup, the longest in the history of the tournament, held at the Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar has carved out a special place for itself while throwing up a new champion.

Here are five highlights which contributed to making the World Cup memorable.

End of Australia’s invincibility: Kookaburras' dream of becoming the first country to win three consecutive World Cups was spoilt by the Netherlands in the semifinals. Australia, which made its 11th straight last-four appearance, had to settle for third place, its first bronze medal in 24 years, underlining that the green-and-gold brigade is no more an invincible unit.

The Aussies lost in the semifinals to the Netherlands. PHOTO: GETTY IMAGES

 

A new champion: Belgium recorded its first podium finish in style by claiming the world title after edging out the Netherlands in a thrilling final. The Red Lions, who won silver at the 2016 Rio Olympics, became the sixth country to win the World Cup gold, which was indicative of its growth in the game.

India’s best finish in 24 years: Coach Harendra Singh, who had guided India to Junior World Cup title win in 2016, drafted several youngsters into the senior team to begin the host’s campaign here on a positive note. Despite the absence of several senior members, the young side played well before losing narrowly to the Netherlands in the quarterfinals to finish sixth. It was India’s best finish in 24 years after the fifth-place in 1994.

France’s rise: World No. 20 and the lowest ranked team in the event surprised all by stunning Olympic champion and second ranked Argentina 5-3 in a pool match. The French team showed the benefits of their well-planned preparation for the last one year. Aiming to be among the top teams in the 2024 Paris Olympics, France, coached by Dutch great Jeroen Delmee, achieved its target of a top-10 finish by reaching the quarterfinals.

The locals turned up in large numbers to make the World Cup a memorable one. PHOTO: Biswaranjan Rout

 

Great venue: The spacious stadium, well-trained staff, excellent hospitality, superb ambience and the hockey loving crowd of Odisha made the World Cup a memorable event. The spectators filling up the stands everyday was an encouragement for all the teams. They rooted for the host with passion and applauded the entertaining hockey on display from the visiting teams. The foreign teams appeared thrilled to perform at such a fabulous venue.