Hockey World Cup 2023: Ahead of the new season of the FIH Hockey Pro League, the Indian hockey team's captain Manpreet Singh has opened up on the importance of playing Spain in the hockey league. India will host Spain in the FIH Pro Hockey League on 30th October in Bhubaneshwar and will later play against them in the 2023 Hockey World Cup.
"It is great that we will get a chance to play against Spain now in the Pro League matches. It will give us an understanding of their game and what we need to improve upon before we meet them again in the first match of the FIH Odisha Hockey Men's World Cup Bhubaneswar-Rourkela 2023. In all, these are exciting times for hockey and I hope fans from all over the world will come to Rourkela and Bhubaneswar to support our campaign," Manpreet said in a Hockey India release.
In the World Cup, Tokyo Olympics bronze medallists India, who are currently world No.5 in the FIH rankings, are clubbed alongside England (6), Spain (8) and debutants Wales (16) in pool D. After Spain, India will play their second match in Rourkela, against England on January 15, before moving to the capital city of Bhubaneswar, where they will face Wales in their final group match on January 19. The match against Spain in the World Cup will be the Indian team's first outing at the newly-built Rourkela stadium, touted to become the world's largest hockey venue.
"We have all experienced how electrifying the atmosphere can be in Bhubaneswar's Kalinga Hockey Stadium and from what I have heard from my teammates who are from Sundergarh, the fans from this region are all looking to turn up in huge numbers for all the matches to be played in Birsa Munda Hockey Stadium in Rourkela," Manpreet said.
"I can already feel the goosebumps thinking of the turnout for the opening game. It will be quite incredible to play in the newly built Birsa Munda Hockey Stadium which will be the biggest stadium in the country with more than 20,000 seating capacity," he added.
(Inputs from PTI...)