India have been drawn along with Belgium, Canada, and Germany in Pool C for the FIH Junior Women’s Hockey World Cup 2023, the organising committee of the tournament announced on Thursday.

The Junior World Cup is scheduled to take place from November 29 to December 10 in Santiago, Chile.

India will open their campaign against Canada on November 29 before taking on Germany on December 1. In their third and last Pool game, the Indian team will take on Belgium on December 2.

FIH also revealed the new junior women’s world rankings as per which India are ranked sixth, while the Netherlands are ranked first. Meanwhile, Argentina, Germany, England and the United States are ranked second, third, fourth and fifth respectively. India are also the top ranked team in the Continental rankings.

Having won the Women’s Junior Asia Cup 2023 in Japan recently, the Indian team will be aiming for a good showing in the competition in Santiago.

Notably, India came close to winning the bronze medal in the last edition of the Junior Women’s Hockey World Cup but couldn’t as they lost to England 2(0)-2(3) in the 3/4th place match.

As per the tournament format, each team in the pool stage will play the other three teams in their pool once and the top two teams from each pool will progress to the quarter-finals, while the remaining teams will play for classification positions.

The Netherlands, who are the defending champions, are the most successful team in the Junior Women’s World Cup, having won the title four times, followed by South Korea and Argentina, who have clinched the esteemed trophy twice each. Germany has won the tournament once.

Speaking after the draw, Indian captain Preeti said, “We are aware that each pool is filled with talented and formidable opponents, but we see this as an opportunity to showcase our skills, determination, and teamwork on the global stage. We are confident in our abilities and will give our all in every match.”

Meanwhile, the Indian women’s team chief coach Janneke Schopman, said, “The team is blooming with confidence after winning the Asia Cup. But the World Cup will be much more challenging as we’ll face strong teams from around the world. Every match in the tournament will test our skills, teamwork, and resilience. The Pool draw reinforces the need for us to raise our game and push our limits to achieve success.”

“However, we believe in the potential of our team and its ability to rise to the occasion. Our goal is to create a cohesive unit that performs with a never-give-up attitude, and stays true to our game plan while adapting to the challenges posed by each opponent. We will leave no stone unturned in our preparations to ensure we are well-prepared for the tournament,” she added.

“Yes, the team is very excited,” Indian junior women’s team coach Harvinder Singh said, echoing the Schopman’s words. “Despite the historic victory in Japan. The team is aware that there are a few areas where we need to improve, and we have identified those areas and are currently working on them as we prepare for the Junior Women’s World Cup.”

Also, speaking on the newly announced FIH Junior Women’s rankings, Schopman said, “Being ranked among the top teams in the FIH Junior Women rankings is a great honour. It shows that our team has what it takes to compete at the highest level. This ranking motivates us to keep pushing forward and strive for even greater success.”

Group stage schedule for Indian Women’s Junior Hockey team

India vs Canada - November 29

India vs Germany - December 1

India vs Belgium - December 2

Here are the Pools for the Junior Women’s Hockey World Cup 2023: 

Pool A: Australia, Chile, Netherlands, South Africa 

Pool B: Argentina, Korea, Spain, Zimbabwe 

Pool C: Belgium, Canada, Germany, India 

Pool D: England, Japan, New Zealand, United States