Bengaluru: Veteran Indian hockey goalkeeper PR Sreejesh feels the opening two matches of the FIH Pro League against Spain will be “mock tests” for the team to assess themselves ahead of the World Cup to be held in Bhubaneswar and Rourkela early next year. India is preparing to host the men’s World Cup from January 13 to 29 next year.
Ahead of the prestigious competition, India will host world number eight Spain on October 30 and November 6 in their first matches of the upcoming FIH Pro League 2022-23 at the Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar. “The FIH Hockey Pro League is the best platform for us as we get a chance to play against some of the top teams,” Sreejesh said in a Hockey India release. The upcoming matches at home will be like a mock test for us, it will help us in the real challenges that we will face in January 2023.
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“It will also help us in providing the young players with the experience of playing high level hockey. It is a great opportunity for us as it will help us build our momentum for the World Cup.” India have been placed in a tough Pool D in next year’s World Cup and Sreejesh expects stiff competition from their opponents in the initial stages. World number five team India is clubbed with England (world ranking six), Spain (world ranking eight) and Wales.
India played out a 4-4 draw against England and beat Wales 4-1 to win the silver medal at this year’s Birmingham Commonwealth Games. Sreejesh said, “It is an interesting pool. England, Spain and Wales are all really good teams. Having recently played England and Wales at the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games, I feel it will be a tough competition.
But we don’t need to think about it now, he said. We are taking it step by step and working on our game in the national camp. We are very excited and looking forward to play. Excited to play a second consecutive World Cup at home.” The 34-year-old goalkeeper has been nominated for the FIH Goalkeeper of the Year award and credited his teammates for the honour. (agency)
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