The Indian men’s hockey team have drawn England, Wales and Spain as their opponents in Group D of the upcoming FIH hockey men’s World Cup 2023 Bhubaneswar-Rourkela. The tournament will be played from 13 to 29 January, 2023.

Speaking after the draw, chief coach Graham Reid said, “The pools in the FIH Hockey World Cup and the Olympics are always difficult. Every team is there to win. We just played England and Wales in the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games and the games were of the highest quality. To top that off with Spain who have been improving in the last 12 months will make the first-round games very difficult. As is the case with the finals qualification system now in place you also have to keep one eye on the cross-over pool and it certainly doesn’t get any easier there.”

When asked if playing Spain in the FIH Hockey Pro League 2022-2023 would help in the preparatory journey ahead of the FIH hockey men’s World Cup 2023 Bhubaneswar-Rourkela, Reid said, “It always swings and roundabouts when you play games against future opponents in the big tournaments. Do you try strategies that you may want to use in the FIH Hockey World Cup or do you show nothing and miss that opportunity! They can learn as much about you as as you can learn about them.”

In the 2018 World Cup, India bowed out in the quarter-finals. And this time round, Reid is hoping that India will improve their World Cup record.

“As I said before, England are a world-class team and they are playing a very good brand of hockey at the moment. But so are we and the important part about the World Cup is that we have to keep our minds in the moment and focus on each aspect of the game. It is a very different team than it was four years ago, with different experiences and some different personnel. We are looking forward to the World Cup and playing in front of our home crowd.”

Reid also congratulated the Indian players and the Indian women’s team chief coach Janneke Schopman for being nominated for various categories in the FIH Stars Awards.

The men’s defender Harmanpreet Singh, who won the FIH Player of the Year Award in the 2020-21 edition of the FIH Stars Awards, has been nominated for the same award yet again. Along with the Harmanpreet, PR Sreejesh (FIH Goalkeeper of the Year Men), Savita (FIH Goalkeeper of the Year Women), Sanjay (FIH Rising Star of the Year Men), Mumtaz Khan (FIH Rising Star of the Year Women), Graham Reid (FIH Men’s Team Coach of the Year Men) and Janneke Schopman (FIH Women’s Team Coach of the Year Women) have also been nominated for FIH Hockey Star Awards 2021-22.

“One thing that I can say with some surety, is that each of them acknowledges that individual awards are a result of hours of hard work put in by a lot of people. They become reflections of team performance,” he signed off.