A total of 16 teams will contest in the upcoming tournament.

India will play as hosts for the upcoming 2021 Men’s FIH Hockey Junior World Cup. The matches will take place at the Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar, Odisha between November 24 – December 5, 2021. The tournament will provide a great insight into the future of hockey because of the young players in action. Some of the best young players from across the globe will be representing their national teams at the tournament.

The national teams will be sending their U-21 category teams and these players are the future of the sport. All eyes will be on major contenders ahead of the tournament which will involve 16 teams divided into four groups. Fans are very excited to see these young players in action and hope their nation goes all the way when the action begins.

The Junior Hockey World Cup is full of young players looking to make a mark in the world. There is a lot of excitement ahead of the tournament and the fans cannot wait to see their team in action. As the build-up to the competition continues, let us take a look at the five teams who are strong title contenders.

5. Argentina

The Latin Americans are being considered one of the favourites to win the tournament. They reached the 2021 Men’s Junior Pan American Championship final but lost narrowly to Chile on penalties. Argentina will try to stake a claim in the upcoming tournament but Chile will have a psychological advantage due to their win the previous meeting.

The tournament held in Santiago, Chile acted as a qualifier to the Junior Hockey World Cup. The runners-up (Argentina) and winners (Chile) are the two South American teams taking part in the World Cup in India. Argentina is in Pool D alongside Germany, Pakistan and Egypt; they should qualify into the quarter-finals easily. From that point onward, Argentina’s grit and determination should guide them into the latter stages of the tournament. 

4. Belgium

Belgium is a big name in the world of field hockey currently. Their senior team recently won the gold medal at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics in Japan. There is a fresh batch of talent coming through and they will take inspiration from the success at the Olympics. The U-21 Belgian players will hope to emulate the senior team who secured the gold at Tokyo 2020 earlier this year.

The tournament will be a huge opportunity for the young players (Courtesy- Hockey India)

Belgium will take their place in Pool A alongside Chile, Malaysia and South Africa. They should not have any difficulties in navigating through the group and finding their place in the quarterfinals. It will be interesting to see how they perform with expectations riding on their shoulders.

3. Netherlands

The Netherlands is a powerhouse when it comes to field hockey. The country has been traditionally very successful on the international stage and continues to produce incredible players. The senior Dutch team lost in the semi-final of the Olympics and the youngsters will try to lift the spirits at the Junior World Cup.

The Netherlands reached the quarter-final in the previous edition which was also held in India. Despite the uncertain record, the Netherlands will be a strong contender. They are placed in Pool C with South Korea, Spain and the USA. Securing qualification into the knockout stages should not be a problem for the outfit. 

2. Germany

Germany is also one of the powerhouses of field hockey and one of the strongest teams from Europe. The German youngsters have incredible technique and they are the hardest workers on the turf. In the previous edition of the Junior Hockey World Cup, the outfit finished third after defeating Australia in the third-place playoff.

There is a lot of potential in the U-21 squad from Germany and eyes will be on them from the neutrals as well. Teams like Pakistan, Argentina and Egypt are accompanying them in Pool D. Germany is also the reigning champion of the 2019 Men’s EuroHockey Junior Championship, which acted as the qualifier for the Junior Hockey World Cup for Europe.

1. India

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

India is the top contender to win the upcoming Junior Hockey World Cup. There are many factors that will work in their favour and could help them go all the way. India is the defending champion after winning the 2016 Men’s Hockey Junior World Cup, defeating Belgium in the final.

The home advantage will certainly play in their favour too, as the matches will be played at the Kalinga Stadium in Odisha. Olympic bronze-medalist Vivek Sagar Prasad will be the captain of the squad which will try to emulate the senior national team, who won a bronze at the Tokyo Olympics. He was part of that incredible team and will look to inspire his teammates to defend their title. 

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