new Delhi: Former captain Zafar Iqbal believes that it will not be easy for India to win the Hockey World Cup again after 47 years as they have been placed in a tough group along with Spain, England and Wales. The World Cup is to be held in Bhubaneswar and Rourkela from January 13 to 29. India won the only gold medal in the World Cup in 1975 in Kuala Lumpur under the captaincy of Ajit Pal Singh.
Zafar said that if India manages to make it to the podium at the prestigious event, it would be another big achievement after winning the bronze medal at the Tokyo Olympics. Apart from India, Spain, England and Wales, Australia, Belgium, Netherlands, Argentina, Germany, New Zealand, Korea, France, Malaysia, South Africa, Japan and Chile are among the 16 teams that will be fighting for the title.
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India is the top-ranked team in Pool D with the fifth position. England’s world ranking is six while Spain’s is eight. Wales is the number 15 team in the world. Zafar said in a Hockey India release, “You never know which team will be in top form in world level competitions. There are many strong teams like Belgium, Netherlands, Australia, England, Spain and India.
He said, “We will have tough matches in the group stage. We have Spain, England and Wales to play and they are all strong teams.” “I am sure if India makes it to the podium, it will be a great achievement,” Zafar said. We have many wonderful players in our team who always give their best and who are the heroes of the Tokyo Olympics. So let’s hope they can repeat that success once again.”
Zafar, who was a member of the Indian team that won the gold medal in the 1980 Moscow Olympics, said that the ongoing Football World Cup is witness to the fact that any team can pull off a big event. He said, “Former champions Spain, Germany and Brazil are out of the Football World Cup. You cannot say when which team will beat which team in this type of tournament. “It is not easy to predict and it is the same with the Men’s Hockey World Cup 2023,” Zafar said. (agency)
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