Pro League tie will give us better understanding of Spain ahead of WC: Manpreet

NEW DELHI, Sep 28:  India will be hosting Spain in the new season of FIH Pro League next month and captain Manpreet Singh wants to use the opportunity to get a better understanding of their rivals ahead of the 2023 men’s hockey World Cup to be held in Bhubaneswar and Rourkela.

India will play New Zealand in the first match of Pro League on October 28 at the Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar, followed by the second game against Spain on October 30.

Placed in the same pool,  India will take on Spain in their World Cup opener at the newly-built Birsa Munda International Stadium in Rourkela on January 13.

“It is great that we will get a chance to play against Spain now in the Pro League matches. It will give us an understanding of their game and what we need to improve upon before we meet them again in the first match of the FIH Odisha Hockey Men’s World Cup Bhubaneswar-Rourkela 2023,” Manpreet said in a Hockey India release.

“In all, these are exciting times for hockey and I hope fans from all over the world will come to Rourkela and Bhubaneswar to support our campaign.”

In the World Cup, Tokyo Olympics bronze medallists India, who are currently world No. 5 in the FIH rankings, are clubbed alongside England (6), Spain (8) and debutants Wales (16) in pool D.

After Spain, India will play their second match in Rourkela, against England on January 15, before moving to the capital city of Bhubaneswar, where they will face Wales in their final group match on January 19.

The match against Spain in the World Cup will be the Indian team’s first outing at the newly-built Rourkela stadium, touted to become the world’s largest hockey venue.

“We have all experienced how electrifying the atmosphere can be in Bhubaneswar’s Kalinga Hockey Stadium and from what I have heard from my teammates who are from Sundergarh, the fans from this region are all looking to turn up in huge numbers for all the matches to be played in Birsa Munda Hockey Stadium in Rourkela,” Manpreet said.

“I can already feel the goosebumps thinking of the turnout for the opening game. It will be quite incredible to play in the newly built Birsa Munda Hockey Stadium which will be the biggest stadium in the country with more than 20,000 seating capacity,” he added.  (PTI)