What Next? Disappointing India To Face Japan In Classification Round, Can At Best Finish 9th
Bhubaneswar: Not many expected hosts India, ranked sixth in the world, to lose to No. 12 New Zealand.
A win in the Crossover round and, thereby, a quarterfinal berth in the World Cup Hockey 2023, was taken for granted. Not just second-time hosts Odisha, the entire country was, in fact, dreaming of a medal after 48 years.
Alas, the packed crowd at Kalinga Stadium were in for a rude shock as the men in blue felt the pressure and lost their nerve to slip out of the top 8.
Their painful campaign will continue, and the men in blue will face Japan in a 9th to 16th place quarterfinal classification match at Rourkela on January 26.
If they win that game, the home team will be up against the winners of the South Africa versus Malaysia contest.
At best, India can finish 9th out of 16 teams. Quite a slip from the 2018 Bhubaneswar World Cup when they topped their pool to make the last eight directly before losing in penalty shootout to The Netherlands to finish 6th.
And if they fail to beat Japan, more ignominy awaits Harmanpreet’s men as they will then feature among the bottom four teams of the 2023 edition.