The Indian junior men's hockey team left for the FIH Hockey Men’s Junior World Cup 2023, which will take place in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, from 5th December to 16th December.
The team left for the tournament from Kempegowda International Airport (KIA) in Bengaluru.
India finished fourth in the previous edition of the tournament, which was held in Bhubaneswar, India in 2021, after losing to France in the 3rd-4th place playoff.
India, placed in Pool C alongside Spain, Korea, and Canada, will begin the campaign against Korea on December 5. They will next face Spain on December 7 and their last Pool stage match will be against Canada on December 9.
India need to finish in the top two in Pool C to secure their entry in the quarterfinals. Captain Uttam Singh will be assisted by vice-captain Araijeet Singh Hundal in his endeavour to return successfully from the FIH Hockey Men’s Junior World Cup 2023.
Defending champions Argentina find themselves in Pool A accompanied by Chile, Australia, and hosts Malaysia. Germany, France, South Africa, and Egypt are slotted in Pool B while the Netherlands, New Zealand, Belgium, and Pakistan will battle it out in Pool D.
The Indian captain Uttam Singh shared his thoughts about their upcoming campaign, saying, “The last time around we had to face the bitter disappointment of losing the 3rd/4th place match to France but the team has bounced back and the bond amongst the team is stronger than ever. As always, the team will take it match by match, we will look to give our best on the pitch and hopefully bring medals back to India.”
Vice-captain Araijeet Singh Hundal echoed the captain’s thoughts, saying, “The team has grown significantly since the last World Cup. We won the Sultan of Johor Cup 2022 and the Men’s Junior Asia Cup and recently finished third in the Sultan of Johor Cup 2023 as well. So, we know that we are capable of winning the FIH Hockey Men’s Junior World Cup 2023, it’s just a matter of performing to the best of our abilities when the time comes.”
Meanwhile, Shardanand Tiwari, who was initially part of the 18-member squad, had to step aside due to an illness and has been replaced by Sukhvinder. As a result of Sukhvinder's entry into the squad, Yogember Rawat has been added as the replacement athlete for the event.
India's opening match against Korea will begin at 3:30 PM Indian Standard Time.
The matches will be broadcast on Viacom Sports 18 - 3 and Sports 18 – 1 HD, as well as live-streamed on Jio.