India will look to defend the title in the upcoming tournament.

The latest edition of the Men’s FIH Junior Hockey World Cup is set to kick-start from 24 November in Bhubaneswar, Odisha. This will be the 12th edition of the competition, ever since it originated 42 years ago in 1979.

Defending champions India have received the rights to host the tournament at the Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar. The two-week affair will feature some of the best junior hockey teams from around the globe. India will hope to reclaim their crown once again, but have to be at the top of their game to do so, behind closed doors.

About the tournament

Even though hockey started picking up as an international sport in the 19th century, it was normally played at the Olympics. But, as the sport gained more popularity, the Hockey World Cup was first played in 1971.

Eight years later, the Junior Hockey World Cup was born. Just like the senior tournament, it takes place every four years. However, the upcoming edition is taking place after a long gap of five years. Germany have enjoyed the majority of the success at the tournament. They’ve won the competition six times (in 11 editions) and participated in every single edition so far. India have qualified for the tournament on 10 occasions and are the second-most successful side in history, having won it twice.

Australia, Pakistan, and Argentina have all won it once respectively. This year’s World Cup will be played exclusively at the refurnished Kalinga Stadium. It will start on 24 November, with the final set to take place on 5 December.

The groups

A: Belgium, Chile, Malaysia, South Africa

B: India, Canada, France, Poland

C: South Korea, Netherlands, Spain, USA

D: Australia, Egypt, Germany, Pakistan

The structure

A total of 16 teams have qualified for the 2021 Junior Hockey World Cup. In 2009, the International Hockey Federation (FIH) decided to experiment with a 20-team tournament which didn’t really work that well. Four groups of four teams have been created for this year’s competition. One team in a group will face each other only once. The top two teams from each group will then directly qualify for the quarter-finals in the medal rounds bracket.

Hockey junior world cup
India will look to defend their title (Courtesy-Olympics)

For the teams unable to qualify for the quarter-finals, they will then play in the classification rounds for their tournament placements. The third-placed team from a group will face the fourth-placed side from the next group and vice-versa. For example, the third-placed team from Group A will face the fourth-placed team from Group B – while the third-placed team from Group B faces the fourth-placed team from Group A.

The four winners from the four games will face each other in the classification semi-finals. The winners of the semi-finals cross-over meet in the ninth place game – where the winner gets the ninth place and the loser gets the 10th place. The losers of the semi-finals face each other to determine the 11th and 12th placed teams.

Meanwhile, the losers of the four classification games will also face each other to determine the 13th-16th placed teams in two games. The winners move onto a ‘final’ to determine the 13th and 14th placed teams, while the losers face each other to determine the 15th and 16th placed teams. From then onwards the medal round quarter-finals will take place. The winners of the matches move onto the semi-finals, while the losers will play two matches to determine the 5th to 8th placed teams.

In the semi-finals, the winners move onto the grand finale and the losers play a 3rd/4th place game. The winner of the finale will be crowned the 2021 Junior Hockey World Cup winners.

About Team India

The India side has a lot of pressure on their backs for this tournament. Going in as the defending champions and playing on their home turf, the Indian team has lots of expectations to fulfill. But, there’s plenty of quality within the squad as well. Olympic bronze medal winner Vivek Sagar Prasad will be captaining the team. The 21-year-old already possesses incredible experience at the top of international hockey.

Hockey india
Vivek Prasad will lead the Indian side (Courtesy- Hockey India)

Prasad was named the FIH Young Player of the Year for his heroics in the 2020/21 season. A hard-working midfielder, he has scored two goals in six appearances for the India U-21 side. He has already made 70 appearances for the Indian senior team, scoring 12 goals.

He will be assisted by defender Sanjay – who has been named the vice-captain. The impressive defender will be crucial to maintain a strong line for his side and support Prasad to keep the young guns grounded.

India team

Vivek Sagar Prasad (c), Sanjay (vice-captain), Shardanand Tiwari, Prashant Chauhan (goalkeeper), Sudeep Chirmako, Rahul Kumar Rajbhar, Maninder Singh, Pawan (goalkeeper), Vishnukant Singh, Ankit Pal, Uttam Singh, Sunil Jojo, Manjeet, Rabichandra Singh Moirangthem, Abhishek Lakra, Yashdeep Siwach, Gurmukh Singh, Araijeet Singh Hundal.

Fixtures

Group A:

Belgium vs South Africa – 24 November, 2021

Malaysia vs Chile – 24 November, 2021

South Africa vs Chile – 26 November, 2021

Malaysia vs Belgium – 26 November, 2021

Belgium vs Chile – 27 November, 2021

South Africa vs Malaysia – 27 November, 2021

Group B:

Canada vs Poland – 24 November, 2021

India vs France – 24 November, 2021

France vs Poland – 25 November, 2021

Canada vs India – 25 November, 2021

France vs Canada – 27 November, 2021

India vs Poland – 27 November, 2021

Group C:

Netherlands vs South Korea – 25 November, 2021

Spain vs USA – 25 November, 2021

South Korea vs USA – 26 November, 2021

Spain vs Netherlands – 26 November, 201

South Korea vs Spain – 28 November, 2021

Netherlands vs USA – 28 November, 2021

Group D:

Germany vs Pakistan – 24 November, 2021

Argentina vs Egypt – 25 November, 2021

Argentina vs Germany – 26 November, 2021

Pakistan vs Egypt – 27 November, 2021       

Pakistan vs Egypt – 28 November, 2021

Germany vs Egypt – 28 November, 2021

Telecast

The 2021 Junior Hockey World Cup will be shown live on the Star Sports Network. It will also be available to stream on Disney+Hotstar and Jio TV.

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