India play Ireland first

With their eyes firmly set on next year’s World Cup, a new-look India will start as overwhelming favourites against minnows Ireland in their opening match of the men’s competition of the FIH World League Round 3, here on Thursday.

However, it won’t be easy for the Indians as they have been grouped along side the mighty Netherlands and New Zealand apart from Ireland in Pool B of the World League Round 3 (semifinal), which is a qualifying tournament for next year’s World Cup in Hague. Pool ‘A’ consists of Australia, Spain, Belgium and Germany.

Indian Hockey’s High Performance Director Roelant Oltmans had already said that India need to put up a “confident and consistent” performance to secure one of the three automatic World Cup berths up for grabs in the FIH World League Round 3. Three teams each will qualify directly for next year’s World Cup from the two World League Round 3 (Semi-final) events. They will be joined by five continental champions and the host nation.

In the women’s  competition India have been clubbed along side Germany, New Zealand and Belgium in a tough Pool B. India will open the campaign against New Zealand on the morrow.

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