The Indian and Australian mens hockey teams arrived here on Tuesday for the upcoming FIH Hockey Pro League 2022/23, which will commence on March 10.
India, Australia, and reigning World Champion Germany will lock horns with each other in the mini-tournament and all six matches are set to take place at the Birsa Munda Hockey Stadium.
Speaking ahead of the FIH Hockey Pro League 2022/23, the Indian men’s hockey team captain Harmanpreet Singh said his team is delighted to come back to Rourkela, where they played their opening match of the 2023 World Cup in January.
“It is good to be back in Odisha. The team is excited to play in Rourkela, where the fans are so passionate about Hockey. Moreover, the newly built Birsa Munda Hockey Stadium in the city boasts of world-class facilities, which will definitely help us step our preparations up a notch,” he said.
“We hope to put up an impressive show as we gear up for the challenge of playing against two top teams – Australia and Germany,” the ace drag-flicker added.
Last year in October, at the FIH Hockey Pro League 2022/2023, India played at the Kalinga Stadium. The Indian men’s hockey team kicked off its campaign with superb 4-3 and 7-4 wins against New Zealand, followed by a 3-2 loss and a 2-2 draw against Spain.
Meanwhile, the Australian men’s hockey team coach, Colin Batch, said he is excited to play in Rourkela, where he is expecting big crowds.
“It’s nice to be back in India. We are pleased to play in the wonderful stadium in Rourkela and we are expecting big crowds here as we understand that the tickets have been selling well which is very exciting for the group,” Batch said.
Batch also revealed that the Australian team has some injury concerns due to which many youngsters are likely to get a chance to play.
“We have a very different team from what we had in the recently-concluded Hockey World Cup. We are going through a development stage currently. We still want to play well and do well in the tournament, but we have some injuries which were unavoidable after the World Cup. So, it’s about giving opportunities and international exposure to some youngsters and we’ll see what they are capable of,” the former Australian hockey player said.
Talking about the challenge of taking on India and Germany, Batch said, “Playing against World Champions Germany will be the real test for us and facing the Indian team at home will be difficult. However, the experience of playing in India in front of a big crowd will be fantastic for the group.”
It is worth noting that as per the league format, Rourkela will host six matches, of which three teams will play each other twice. India will clash with Germany in the first match on March 10 and their second match against Germany will be played on March 13. India will take on Australia, the reigning Commonwealth Games Champions, on March 12 and 15. All matches will be held at 1900 IST.