New Delhi, Dec 16 (PTI) Sports Minister Anurag Thakur on Friday said he is confident about India finishing on the podium in next month’s FIH Men’s Hockey World Cup, saying the new-found spirit and self belief will work wonders for the hosts in marque tournament.
The World Cup will be jointly hosted by Bhubaneswar and Rourkela from January 13 to 29 next year.
“India is fully prepared and ready to take up the challenge from all other 15 teams. I feel India is ready to become world champion once again. I am sure the way the Indian team is preparing, with the new spirit and self belief, we are going to do extremely well in the World Cup and in Paris Olympics,” Thakur told reporters after unveiling the World Cup trophy here.
India last won the World Cup 47 years ago in the 1975 edition in Kuala Lumpur.
“I am happy and delighted to unveil the prestigious trophy and I am sure we are going to see a great tournament,” Thakur said.
“India will host the tournament in the best possible manner and I have full faith that like the 1975 World Cup, our Indian team will do everything possible to win the 2023 World Cup so that the new generation remembers the achievement.” Zafar Iqbal, a member of the 1980 Olympic gold medallist team, said India are one of the favourites to lift the trophy.
“We have now got into the upper level and there is no doubt about that. We have the power and skills to take on the powerful Germany, Australia, Belgium and Netherlands. The four-five top teams are equally good. India has made a mark in the Olympics by winning the bronze medal. India has the potential to win the trophy,” Iqbal told PTI.
The former India centre forward added: “Yes I am sure and confident that India have a chance to finish on the podium. If the players play as a unit feel they are capable of doing it, they will surely reach the podium We have very good short corner specialists and field goal scorers.” Ajitpal Singh, captain of 1975 World Cup-winning side, said there were no clear favourites for the World Cup.
“I cannot say at this stage who is favourite. India has a good chance but they will have to play very well. There are very strong teams in the tournament and I wish the Indian side all the very best. They have to put their best foot forward.” His teammate Ashok Kumar said India have the momentum and looks very solid at the moment.
“Why not? I am sure India will be among the top three. They have got the momentum. The experience of winning a medal at the Olympics is huge and has fulled Indian team spirit. India has the team to excel,” he said.
Source: PTI News