FIH Men’s Hockey World Cup 2023: Obstacles India will face on its home turf


The 2023 is here with India as the host. But even on their home turf, the Men in Blue are not the favourites to win the Cup and there are reasons behind it.

Since the end of the period of elation after the Olympics, Team India have not managed to win anything of significance. In the Asian Champions Trophy, which happened right after the Olympics, a second-string side eventually finished third, losing to Japan in the semi-final before eventually beating Pakistan 4-3 in the third-place game.

The Indian team then played the FIH Pro League, before heading for the Commonwealth Games. In the Pro League, it lost five and won 11 games to eventually finish third behind Netherlands and Belgium in the points table. Australia didn’t compete in this league.

It was the same old story at the Commonwealth Games where India were thrashed by Australia in the final. They also drew with England after leading 3-1 in a league game. Before the Commonwealth Games, they had finished third in the Asia Cup 2022 held in Indonesia as well.

Ending in 2022, the Indian men’s team played four FIH Pro League 2022-23 games, two each against New Zealand and Spain in Odisha. They won both against the Kiwis while were beaten 2-3 in the first match against Spain and then drew 2-2 in the reverse fixture, before winning the shoot-out 3-1 to level the tie.

Just before coming to the World Cup, the Indian side played a Test series against Australia where they lost four matches and won only one. Therefore, leading up to the World Cup, India are definitely not the best team and going further, they would have to face many obstacles.

The group stage is a big hurdle

In the group stage, India will face England and Spain. While England are ranked fifth in the world and India sixth, Spain are not far behind at eight. India have had an upper hand against England in the recent past, beating them in the quarterfinal of the Olympics and leading 3-1 in the Commonwealth Games 2022, before the match finished at a 3-3 draw. In the two meetings at the FIH Pro League 2021-22, India beat the team from Europe 3-3 (3-2 in a shootout) and 4-3.

As for Spain, India beat them 3-0 at the Olympics 2022 and since then have met the Redstciks four times in the Pro Leagues 2021-22 and 2022-23 combined. The results stand at two each for both sides although Spain have struck more goals.

The last opponent for India in the group would be Wales. India have played the world number 15 side five times in history with the latest being in the 2022 Commonwealth Games and have won all the matches.


If India finish first in the group, they will qualify for the quarterfinal directly. There, they will face the winner of the crossover between the second-placed team from Group B and the third-placed team from Group A. Belgium or Germany will finish second in Group B which has Korea and Japan alongside them.

Looking at the current form, it will most probably be Germany in second place in Group B. In Group A, it will either be France or South Africa who will finish third as the other two teams, Argentina and Australia are superior. In any case, India will face Germany most probably in the quarterfinal.

If India finish second in the group, then they will get into the cross-overs set and will most probably face the third-placed team from Group C, which could be either one between Malaysia and Chile or even New Zealand considering their current form not being so good. But for now, let’s say that the Netherlands will finish top of the group and New Zealand will finish second in Group C.

If the Indian team win this cross-over, they will once again face either Germany or Belgium. Since we first considered Belgium to top group B, so India if they win this cross-over, will face Belgium.

Though it is very hard to believe but if India finish third, they will face New Zealand in the crossover and then if they manage to beat the Black Sticks, they will face Australia in the quarterfinal, most likely.

The easiest quarterfinal for India among Germany, Belgium and Australia will be Germany and hence India would aim to finish first in its group. This is even possible because India have recently had their noses ahead of both Spain and England.


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