India to endure Spanish challenge in Hockey World Cup opener | Hockey News – Times of India

India are all set to open their Hockey World Cup campaign against Spain at the newly-constructed Birsa Munda Hockey Stadium in Rourkela on January 13 next year.
The hosts will play their remaining two group games against England at the same venue two days later on January 15 and will then travel to Bhubaneswar where they will play their third group game against Wales at Kalinga Stadium on January 19.
It’s the second consecutive time that Odisha will be hosting the quadrennial event and a lot is expected after the grand success of the 2018 edition which was won by Belgium. But with the event spread over two cities – that are more than 300 km apart – it will be quite a challenge for the organisers as well the competing teams.
A total of 44 matches will be played and the games have been scheduled in such a way that all the 16 teams will play matches at both the venues. As far as the number of matches is concerned, Roukela will be hosting 20 matches while the remaining 24 games will be held in Bhubaneswar.
Although India will play their opening game in Rourkela on January 13 evening, the tournament will begin with Argentina facing off against South Africa in the opener at Bhubaneswar earlier in the day. The opening day will also witness England facing off against Wales in a ‘derby’ in Rourkela and Australia taking on France in Bhubaneswar.
As far as the knockout matches are concerned, excluding the four crossovers, all of them will be held in Bhubaneswar with the final scheduled to take place in Bhubaneswar on January 29.
Defending champions Belgium, who will surely enjoy some support from the local fans, will begin their campaign against Korea in Bhubaneswar on the second day of the meet. Ranked No.2 in the world and also the current Olympic champions, the Red Lions will face Germany in a mouthwatering tie at the same venue on January 17 and then travel to Rourkela for their third game against Japan on January 20.
Like the Belgium-Germany clash, another group match which will be a nail-biter is the one between Australia and Argentina and it will also be held at Kalinga Stadium on January 16.
Meanwhile, 2018 runners-up the Netherlands, like India, will begin their journey in the group stages in Rourkela and then travel to Bhubaneswar for their last tie. First, they will play Malaysia followed by matches against New Zealand and Chile, who will be making their debut in the event alongwith Wales.
India’s fixtures (all matches at 7pm): vs Spain, January 13 – Rourkela; vs England, January 15 – Rourkela; vs Wales, January 19 – Bhubaneswar
Pool A: Australia, Argentina, France, South Africa
Pool B: Belgium, Germany, Korea, Japan
Pool C: Netherlands, New Zealand, Malaysia, Chile
Pool D: India, England, Spain, Wales

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