New Delhi, 17 February 2013: Total twelve teams will fight for the top spots of the Hero Hockey World League Round 2 Delhi 2013 at Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium from 18 to 24 February 2013. Six men’s team and six women’s team will play matches in a round-robin league format and top two teams from each league will qualify for the FIH Hockey World League Round 3.
India men’s team, which is ranked 11, will face the first match against Fiji, ranked 70, on 18 February at 20:00 pm. Fiji men’s team coach Hector Rockee said the their team will give a tough fight to India. “India is a strong team and our team is quite young. In technique, India is far better than us but will play attacking hockey like them,” Hector said at the pre-match press conference at MDC National Stadium on Sunday.
The coach will keep watchful eyes on Sardar Singh and VR Raghunath. “Sardar Singh is the coolest international player, I never seen someone else like him. Raghunath is a very popular drag-flicker and very attacking player. We will keep watchful eyes on them during the match.”
This is the first time Fiji men team is playing at the highest level and competing against each other. “Thanks to FIH Hockey World League, we are playing at a good level. Otherwise, we were playing under the shadow of Australia and New Zealand in Pacific Oceania zone,” coach Hector stated on the World Cup qualifying league.
Fiji captain Hector Albert Smith said that their team will focus on defence and attacking at the same time. “We have to defend ourselves as Indian attack is very strong, so we will keep man-to-man marking. At the same time, we will go for goals as without winning this crucial match, we can’t qualify for second round,” Smith added.
Fiji team is also taking China (FIH rank 18) and Ireland (FIH 15) very seriously. “Ireland is performing very well these days and the match will be very hard. China is also very strong team and we have seen in Olympics that they can challenge strong team like India,” captain Smith said.
On the other hand, India is not taking Fiji easily. “Every match is important in this League. A loss can cost us a lot. Fiji team is young and strong. And we will play at our level,” said India men skipper Sardar Singh.
Coach Michael Nobbs seconded Sardar Singh and said that all matches are important. “This is new format and we are understanding it. China and Ireland are also very strong team and they are hard-working team,” Nobbs stated.
Indian men will play their second match against Oman (FIH rank 36) on 19 February, third against Ireland on 22 February, fourth against China on 23 February and fifth against Bangladesh (FIH rank 40) on 24 February.
India women’s team captain Ritu Rani said that they are much prepared for this league and ready for tomorrow’s match against Kazakhstan (FIH rank 33). “Team is fit and prepared to take on other teams. We are young team and very energetic for this tournament. We will concentrate on match by match and make our strategies according to teams,” she stated after 12-ranked India women team’s practice session at MDC National Stadium today.
India women’s team will play their second against Malaysia (FIH rank 22) on 19 February, third against Fiji (FIH rank 59) on 21 February, against Japan (FIH rank 9) on 22 February and against Russia (FIH rank 20) on 24 January.