Bhubaneswar, February 28: The International Hockey Federation (FIH) has announced the pools and match schedule for the Odisha Hockey Men's World Cup Bhubaneswar 2018, taking place in India between from November 28 to December 16.
Over the course of the nineteen-day competition, sixteen of the world's best men's international hockey teams will take to the field at the 16,000 capacity Kalinga Stadium, a venue that is currently undergoing extensive refurbishment in preparation for what is certain to be a spectacular event both on and off the field.
The Odisha Hockey Men's World Cup Bhubaneswar 2018 sees 15 qualifying nations join hosts India in the race for the title. The host nation were joined by teams who qualified thanks to their performances either at the last year's Hockey World League Semi-Finals competitions in London and Johannesburg or by being crowned as continental champions.
The 16 teams have been split into four pools of four, with Rio 2016 Olympic champions Argentina (current FIH Hero World Ranking: 2) competing in Pool A alongside New Zealand (WR: 9), Spain (WR:8) and France (WR:18), while reigning world champions Australia (WR: 1) take on England (WR:7), Ireland (WR:10) and China (WR:17) in Pool B.
The pools and match schedule for the Odisha Hockey Men’s World Cup Bhubaneswar 2018 taking place from 28 November to 16 December 2018 were announced by the International Hockey Federation (FIH) on February 27th. #IndiaKaGamehttps://t.co/ncHsZPTP4K— Hockey India (@TheHockeyIndia) February 28, 2018
Rio 2016 Olympic silver medallists Belgium (WR:3) will compete in Pool C alongside home favourites and 1975 world champions India (WR:6), Canada (WR:11) and African continental champions South Africa (WR:15), with European title holders and three time world champions the Netherlands (WR:4) taking on two-time champions Germany (WR:5), Malaysia (WR:12) and Pakistan (WR:13), World Cup winners in 1971, 1978, 1982, 1994, in a tough looking Pool D.
The pool phase of the competition will take place from Wednesday (November 28) to Sunday (December 9), with two matches per day being played at 1700 and 1900 India Standard Time respectively. Each day of action will be pool focussed, with the opening day's play featuring two matches in Pool C as Shane McLeod's Belgium take on Canada before host nation India target a winning start when they face South Africa.
There are numerous eye-catching fixtures in the pool phase, including the mouth-watering Pool D meeting two former world champions in Germany and Pakistan on December 1, Asia champions India taking on European giants Belgium on December 2 and England aiming to upset the odds against the mighty Kookaburras of Australia on December 4.
A first place finish in each pool will guarantee a berth in the quarter-finals, with the second and third place finishers in each pool needing to win a cross-over match, which will be played on December 10-11, in order to reach the last eight. The quarter-finals will take place on December 12-13.
Following a rest day on December 14, a huge weekend of action will take place. The event semi-finals will be played on December 15, with the bronze medal and the showpiece Final scheduled for December 16.
The Odisha region and Bhubaneswar's Kalinga Stadium are already familiar locations for Hockey fans. Not only did they successfully host the 2014 Men's Hero Hockey Champions Trophy and, most recently, the Odisha Men's Hockey World League Final Bhubaneswar 2017, it is also home to the Coal India Hockey India League franchise Kalinga Lancers, winners of the 2017 League title. Thousands of fans will descend upon the venue to share in the glory of hockey's biggest event, where the men's World Cup champions will be crowned and legends will be made. Moreover, the event will be broadcast in over 100 countries through FIH's global broadcaster partners.
Odisha Hockey Men's World Cup Bhubaneswar 2018 - Pools
Pool A: Argentina, New Zealand, Spain, France
Pool B: Australia, England, Ireland, China
Pool C: Belgium, India, Canada, South Africa
Pool D: Netherlands, Germany, Malaysia, Pakistan
Pool phase: Nov. 28 to Dec. 9 (Two matches everyday. 1st match at 5:00pm IST & 2nd match at 7:00pm IST)
Cross-over match (to qualify for quarters): Dec. 10-11
Quarter-finals: Dec. 12-13
Semi-finals: Dec. 15
Bronze Medal: Dec. 16
Final: Dec. 16
Source: FIH Release