FIH announces match schedule for Hockey World Cup 2018


NEW DELHI: Sixteen of the world’s best international hockey teams will take to the field to compete in the FIH Men’s Hockey World Cup 2018 at the 16,000-capacity Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar, scheduled from November 28 to December 16. The venue is currently undergoing extensive refurbishment in preparation for the prestigious event.

Hosts India were joined by teams who qualified through 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 World Ranking: 2) competing in Pool A alongside New Zealand (9th ranked), Spain (8th) and France (18th), while reigning world champions Australia (world no. 1) take on England (7th), Ireland (1th0) and China (17th) in Pool B.

Rio 2016 Olympic silver medallists Belgium (3rd ranked) will compete in Pool C alongside home favourites and 1975 world champions India (6th), Canada (11th) and African continental champions South Africa (15th), with European title holders and three-time world champions the Netherlands (4th) taking on two-time champions Germany (5th), Malaysia (12th) and Pakistan (13th) – World Cup winners in 1971, 1978, 1982, 1994 – in a tough Pool D.

The pool phase of the competition will take place from November 28 to December 9, with two matches per day being played at 1700 and 1900 IST respectively. Each day of action will be pool focused, 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 between two former world champions in Germany and Pakistan on December 1, Asian 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 and 11, in order to reach the last eight. The quarter-finals will take place on December 12 and 13.

Following a rest day, a huge weekend of action will take place. The semi-finals will be played on December 15, with the bronze medal and the showpiece Final scheduled for December 16.

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