Spain coach places India among favourites

Bhubaneswar: Spain’s head coach Frederic Soyez believes the men’s hockey World Cup will be evenly-contested with more than seven teams vying for a medal but said India will be among the favourites to lift the championship trophy.

Spain, ranked No.8 in the World, arrived Friday afternoon for the hockey World Cup to be held from November 28 to December 16 at the Kalinga Stadium here.”I think this will be a very closely contested event with more than six to seven teams on par with each other fighting for a medal,” said Soyez.

“Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, Australia and India will be good contenders for Championship Title,” he added. Grouped in Pool A along with Olympic Champions Argentina, New Zealand and France, Spain will begin their campaign on November 29.

“We have had good preparations for this tournament. We are focused on our first game, and it is important to do well in the Group stage. We have played at the Kalinga Stadium last year and the atmosphere here is electrifying,” said Soyez. China, who are grouped with England, Australia and Ireland in Pool B, also arrived early morning. England and New Zealand will arrive late night the Biju Patnaik International Airport.

Meanwhile, The French hockey team, which arrived for the 2018 Men’s Hockey World Cup on Thursday, are hopeful of creating some upset wins to keep their chances alive in the prestigious event. An optimistic chief coach Hugo Genestet said, “We are the lowest ranked team in the Odisha Hockey Men’s World Cup Bhubaneswar 2018 and our target is to get closer to the top 10. We are in a tough group but we have had good preparations and can cause a little bit of an upset in the tournament.”

The team will begin their campaign against New Zealand on November 29 and are banking on their experienced players to ensure good fight against higher ranked teams.  “We have a good group of players with some of them who were part of the U-21 World Cup in Delhi where the team finished second. They have grown from there, with good experience and a good program back home. We can make it hard for other teams who are favourites against us. At least one upset is a realistic goal for us to make the next round,” Genestet added. The 2018 Men’s Hockey World Cup is slated to be held from November 28 to December 16 in Odisha.

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