Sunday, March 26, 2023

Hockey World Cup: Can be nice if India can end on the rostrum, says former skipper Zafar Iqbal

Former captain Zafar Iqbal feels it gained’t be straightforward for India to reclaim the World Cup title after a hiatus of 47 years because the hosts are positioned in a troublesome pool alongside Spain, England and Wales.

Zafar mentioned it will be a fantastic achievement after the Tokyo Olympics bronze if the host manages to complete on the rostrum on the January 13-29 occasion.

Australia, Belgium, Netherlands, India, Argentina, Germany, New Zealand, England, France, Korea, Malaysia, Spain, South Africa, Japan, Chile and Wales are the 16 groups, who shall be vying for the title.

India’s solely gold within the World Cup got here on the 1975 Kuala Lumpur version of the match below Ajit Pal Singh’s captaincy.

“At the world-level competitions, you never know who will be at the top form. Several teams are very strong such as Belgium, Netherlands, Australia, England, Spain, and India,” Zafar mentioned.

“We will have tough matches in the group stages. We have Spain, England, and Wales, and all are equally strong in their own right.

“I am sure if India finishes on the podium, it will be a great achievement. We have several gutsy players in the team, who always put in their best and who were the heroes of the Tokyo Olympics. So, we hope they can repeat the success once again,” he added.

Iqbal, a member of India’s 1980 Moscow Olympics gold medal-winning facet, mentioned the continued soccer World Cup is a testomony that any workforce could cause upsets in a big-ticket sporting occasion.

“Former world champions Spain, Germany and Brazil have all been eliminated from the football World Cup. You never know which team can get a win over which team in such tournaments.

“It is always unpredictable and men’s Hockey World Cup 2023 is unpredictable as well.” he mentioned.

Iqbal, who additionally competed within the 1982 males’s Hockey World Cup in Mumbai, mentioned astroturf has modified the sport fully and modern-day hockey is all about energy.

“During our time, hockey was played on grass. But astroturf started replacing grass in most parts of the world as the ‘80s came around. Even though the 1982 World Cup was played on grass at home, we were unable to perform our best, and were unable to qualify for the semifinals,” he mentioned.

“Now, astroturf has converted hockey into a game of power. The players need to be fitter and require more energy. We had to adapt ourselves to the European style of attacking hockey now.

We had to change with the passage of time. Once astroturf was introduced, we had to adjust according to the turf,” he added.

Most Popular