Indian captain Vivek Sagar Prasad will be on a mission at the FIH Hockey Men’s Junior World Cup. The 21-year-old would want to pass on his experience from the country’s Olympic bronze medal win and inspire his side to a successful title defense in Bhubaneswar’s Kalinga Stadium.
India will take on France in the final fixture on the opening day of the FIH Hockey Men’s Junior World Cup. The hosts are drawn in Pool B alongside Canada, France and Poland.
India are a two-time Hockey Men’s Junior World Cup champion, winning their first title in 2001 in Hobart, Australia. The second gold medal came in 2016 in Lucknow.
However, since 2016, a lot has changed in Indian hockey. The country’s senior side, which had a number of players from the batch of 2016, ended a 41-year wait for an Olympic medal at the Tokyo Games.
Vivek Prasad, who was part of that historic senior side in Tokyo, feels he needs to pass on the same mentality to his side. The junior hockey team played a few practice games against the senior side and the Indian skipper believes it will help them in the competition.
“During my stay with the senior side, I have learned some valuable lessons from the big stage like team always comes first. My job will be to keep the team together and pass on the Olympic experience as much as I can,” he said during a virtual press conference on Tuesday.
Five countries have traditionally dominated the Hockey Men’s Junior World Cup. Germany have won most titles (six), followed by India. Australia, Argentina and Pakistan have won one each.
However, this year’s hockey competition will be without Australia, New Zealand and England. The three heavyweights withdrew due to COVID-19 related restrictions.
The Vivek Sagar-led side are among the tournament favorites alongside Germany, the Netherlands and Belgium. Incidentally, the Netherlands have never won a Hockey Men’s Junior World Cup.
A top-two finish in the pool is the only way to secure a place in the quarter-finals of the competition.
FIH Hockey Men’s Junior World Cup 2021 Pools
Pool A: Belgium, Chile, Malaysia, South Africa
Pool B: Canada, France, India, Poland
Pool C: Korea, Netherlands, Spain, USA
Pool D: Argentina, Egypt, Germany, Pakistan
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Vivek Sagar Prasad (c), Sanjay, Shardanand Tiwari, Prashant Chauhan, Sudeep Chirmako, Rahul Kumar Rajbhar, Maninder Singh, Pawan, Vishnukant Singh, Ankit Pal, Uttam Singh, Sunil Jojo, Manjeet, Rabichandra Singh Moirangthem, Abhishek Lakra, Yashdeep Siwach, Gurmukh Singh and Araijeet Singh Hundal.