The weight of expectations will be surely felt by the Indian team as they gird their loins for the 12th Junior FIH Men’s Hockey World Cup that is being played at the Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneshwar. Playing as a host nation has its own share of challenges but with the tourney being played without the presence of spectators owing to the Covid-19 pandemic, this can work out well for the Indian colts.
India will lock horns with 2013 Junior World Cup surprise runners-up France in their lung opener. This will be India’s third Junior World Cup meet-up with France. Both teams faced off in the inaugural 1979 edition at Versailles, where the Blueshirts had eased past hosts France 4-1. India and France next clashed in the 1985 Junior World Cup at Vancouver at Canada, where India again posted a convincing 4-0 win over them in a 5-8th place classification tie.
Surprisingly, France after finishing second-best to Germany in the 2013 Junior World Cup at New Delhi, did not make it to the 2016 Junior World Cup held at Lucknow.
India should not take France lightly – we all are aware of how they got the better of top sides like Spain, Argentina, Belgium during their dream run in the 2013 Junior World Cup.