The 11th edition of the FIH Junior Hockey World Cup is all set to kick off today in Lucknow, Utter Pradesh, where India host Canada in their first match. India go into this tournament on the back of an impressive victory in the four-nation tournament in Valencia last month where they defeated World Champions Germany in the finals.
India will also be looking to break their 15-year jinx at the Junior Hockey World Cup, a tournament they last won way back in 2001. A key player for them will be 21-year-old striker Mandeep Singh. Mandeep is currently the most experienced player in the Indian squad with over 60 international caps. He has also represented India at the Robobank Hockey World Cup in 2014 and the Champions Trophy earlier this year.
With player like Harjeet Singh, Mandeep Singh, defender Harmanpreet Singh and goalkeeper Vikas Dahiya, who have already represented India at the senior level as well as played with some of the best players in the world in the Hockey Indian League, India have one of the best squads going into this tournament and are considered as genuine favourites to win it.
India coach Harendra Singh was confident that Team India will have a good tournament and that they would show off some of the best hockey to the world.
"We are approaching one match at a time. But I can guarantee all that I won't let anyone leave the tournament disappointed. I can guarantee you one thing that these 18 boys will show their best hockey to you and the world" the Indian Express quoted India's coach as saying.
Canada will be going into this tournament in decent form too as they ended up as the runners-up in the Junior Pan-Am Championship in Toronto. Canada will be hoping for a better tournament than the one in 2013 where they finished last.
"I see this tournament as an opportunity for the players to get better so that in the next 5-6 years they get to play for the senior side. We were not even surprised by the way our seniors played against India at Rio (Canada drew 2-2 against India). We aren't here with any special plan, but we are here to play good hockey" the Hindustan Times quoted Canada's coach Inderpal Sehmbi as saying.
Where to watch live
India VS Canada is set to begin at 7:00 PM IST
India : TV : Star Sports 4/ Star Sports HD4. Live Streaming : Hotstar
International : Live Streaming : Olympic Channel