New Delhi: Hosts India will take on lower-ranked Spain in the men’s Hockey World Cup opener at the newly-built Birsa Munda International Stadium in Rourkela on the opening day January 13, next year. Tokyo Olympics bronze medallists India are currently ranked World No. 5 in the FIH rankings. They are clubbed alongside England (No. 6), Spain (No. 8) and World Cup debutants Wales (No. 16) in pool D.
India will play their second match also in Rourkela, against England, January 15. Then team India will move to the Odisha capital Bhubaneswar, where they will face Wales in their final group match January 19.
Pool A is headed up by World No.1 Australia, who got the bronze medal at the last World Cup in 2018. They are drawn along with 2016 Olympic champions Argentina, France and African champions South Africa.
Reigning World Champions Belgium are the top seed. They have been drawn in Pool B along with 2006 winners Germany, Korea and Japan. Belgium are ranked second while Germany are fourth.
Pool C will feature last edition finalists the Netherlands, ranked third in the world, along with Oceania representative New Zealand, Malaysia – playing their ninth World Cup – and debutants Chile.
As per the fixtures released Tuesday by the FIH, 2016 Olympic champions Argentina will take on South Africa, while World No. 1 Australia face France on the same day at the Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar on the opening day of the tournament.
While India’s game starts at 7.00pm (IST), the tournament will start in Rourkela with England taking on Wales in the first game.