Zalewski: We’ve to perform at our best

Australia head coach Colin Batch also believes it won't be an easy task for his side even in the pool stage.

Aran Zalewski captains the Australia side that begins its Hockey World Cup 2018 campaign in Pool A against Ireland.   -  Biswaranjan Rout

Australia captain Aran Zalewski believes the men's Hockey World Cup 2018 will be one of the most open editions of the tournament in recent times and that his team will not find it easy to defend the title in Bhubaneswar.

“World hockey is close at the moment and very competitive and any team can win and obviously India at home with home crowd will be very tough to beat,” said Zalewski after arriving here with his team for the World Cup.

“We have a chance to test ourselves against the best in the world as we haven’t tested ourselves since Rio (2016 Olympics) so we want to do very well here,” he added.

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It is a sort of homecoming for Australia, which had claimed the Champions Trophy in 2014 and the Hockey World League Final in 2017 in Bhubaneswar.

Australia has Ireland, England and China in Pool B and head coach Colin Batch said it isn’t going to be an easy task for his side even in the pool stage.

“We are the Champions but a long way from winning this tournament. We have a lot of work to do. We saw that in the Women’s World Cup, a lot of surprises sprung up so we have to perform at our best against Ireland in the first game and then see what happens from there", said Batch, who won a World Cup himself in 1986.

“We haven’t seen Ireland for a while but they have played some good hockey. England we have played them a few times, they are a good side and China are a bit unknown so we just take one game a time.”

Australia opens its title-defence campaign against Ireland on November 30.