3 player matches to watch out for in the IND vs ESP competition
The Indian hockey team kicks off the 2023 FIH Men’s Hockey World Championship campaign on Friday, January 13, with a match against Spain. The home team could only make it to the quarterfinals in the final edition of the biggest global hockey event. They lost to the final runner-up of the Netherlands in the last eight matches of the 2018 tournament.
On the other hand, Spain was eliminated from the first round, ranked at the bottom of the table. This time, they will face an Indian team looking to follow up on their first bronze medal at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, their first Olympic medal since 1982.
Both teams faced each other twice in the FIH Pro League last year, at Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar. Spain won the first match 3–2 while the second ended in a 2–2 draw, before India went on a penalty shootout 3–1.
Spain may have played better than the Indians in their FIH Pro League encounters, but here it is world hockey tournament, the Indian team will bring its game A. It promises to be an interesting match.
While the overall team performance will determine the outcome, a few key players can have a big say in the competition. Looking ahead to the competition, we’ll examine three player matches that will be key to deciding who comes out on top in India’s World Hockey League opener.
#1 Adrian Rafi vs Harmanpreet Singh
India has become too reliant on scoring on their corner experts Harmanpreet Singh. The defender is definitely also the captain and therefore, needs to serve the ball back to his team. When he takes his place in PC practice in India’s first ever world hockey game, he’ll be up against Spanish goalkeeper Adrian Rafi.
Rafi is a very capable goalkeeper. But he’s up against one of the best drag-flickers in the world in Harmanpreet. If the Spaniard can keep the Indian captain in scoring, it will make it more difficult for India. So this contest will be very important.
#2 Enrique Gonzalez vs Jarmanpreet Singh
Jarmanpreet Singh has emerged as one of India’s most important players in the post-Olympic Tokyo era. Big Sardar mainly plays as a defender but he is always present on the pitch.
Against Spain, he will have to try to stop the dangerous runs that Spain’s Enrique Gonzalez can create. The Spaniard has the ability to cross the midfield at a fast pace and open up the opponent’s defence.
Jarmanpreet, with his agility and skill, will have to ensure that Gonzalez is stopped before he can deal any damage.
#3 Krishan Pathak vs Marc Miralles
The ongoing edition of the FIH Pro League witnessed by India Krishna Pathaka graduate student of PR Sreejesh for a long time, reaching adulthood. His goalkeeper in the first few games of the tournament is exceptional and he could be the preferred choice for India in the upcoming World Hockey League.
His biggest test, as usual for a goalkeeper, is facing corners. When the set-piece comes up, he is likely to face Marc Miralles, the specialist in dragging the ball on the Spanish side.
If Pathak continues his good form in this Hockey World Cup and manages to keep the number of PC goals to a minimum, India will get a huge boost. With the talent in possession, Pathak cannot be underestimated.