India were on Saturday handed a relatively easy draw for the 2023 FIH men’s hockey junior world cup and will start their campaign against South Korea in a Group C match on December 5, the opening day of the marquee event.
The tournament will conclude on December 16, with the matches taking place at the National Hockey Stadium Bukit Jalil.
Besides Korea, India, who finished fourth in the last edition in 2021 having turned out as tournament hosts in Bhubaneswar, have drawn Spain and Canada.
India will take on Spain on December 7 and end their group stage engagements with a game against Canada on December 9.
The tournament was officially launched on Saturday during a ceremony at the Mercure Living Hotel in Putrajaya.
Hosts Malaysia are in Group A with Argentina, Australia, and Chile, while Germany, France, South Africa, and Egypt are in Group B.
The Netherlands, Belgium, Pakistan, and New Zealand form Group D.
The pools were established on the basis of the first FIH junior world rankings, the sport’s apex body said in a press release.
As many as 16 teams from around the world will be vying for the coveted championship title.
India’s Uttam Singh expressed confidence about doing well in the tournament.
“With victories at the Sultan of Johor Cup and the Junior Asia Cup, the Indian team is brimming with optimism and is confident of a podium finish at the Junior World Cup in Malaysia.
“The passionate Malaysian spectators add an extra level of excitement to the event, and we can’t wait to go there and do our best,” Singh said.
Argentina trumped six-time champions Germany in the final to win gold at the last edition, while France and India finished third and fourth, respectively.
Each player competing in the junior hockey world cup must be below 21 years of age in the December of the year preceding the tournament.
First held in 1979, the men’s junior world cup was initially a 12-team tournament which has since increased to 16 since the 2001 edition (though 20 teams played in 2009).
With two titles, in 2001 and 2016, India are the only team, besides Germany and Argentina, to win the tournament on more than one occasion.
“Through its ‘athletes first’ approach, mentioned in the new Empowerment and Engagement strategy that was recently launched, FIH has made youth a strong focus going forward. The FIH Junior World Cups play a crucial role in this regard,” Tayyab Ikram, the president of the apex body, said in a message delivered through a video recording.
“Furthermore, as one of my priorities as FIH president is to highlight the powerful contributions hockey can make outside of the sport itself for individuals, community and society — with the important topic of sustainability being an integral part of this ambition. I look forward to seeing the ways this will be realised in this event.
“Special thanks to the Malaysian Hockey Confederation as they will, as we know it, put together a fantastic show for this 13th edition of the FIH Hockey Men’s Junior World Cup.”