Zee Media Bureau
New Delhi: India are aiming to break the 15-year jinx at the Junior Hockey World Cup when they take on Canada in the opening match of the event on Thursday.
A formidable Indian unit will take on the minnows and try to put an end to the jinx that has spanned over a decade and a half.
The last time India won the junior hockey world championship was back in 2001 in Australia, featuring a side that include players like Gagan Ajit Singh, Deepak Thakur, Yugraj Singh, Prabhjot Singh.
German coach Valentin Altenburg has already said that India are the hot favourites at the event.
India is hosting the men's junior hockey World Cup for the second time and it is also being held in the country for the second successive time, with New Delhi hosting the last edition in 2013.
India are placed in pool D alongwith England, South Africa and Canada as a total of 16 teams have been put in four groups consisting of four teams each.
Besides the famed title win in 2001, India also featured as the runner-up in the 1997 Junior World Cup held in United Kingdom.
India is believed to have the strongest team in the event featuring the likes of skipper Harjeet Singh, striker Mandeep Singh, defender and dragflicker Harmanpreet Singh and goalkeeper Vikas Dahiya.
Regarded as one of the most balanced and experienced team in the event, the Indian players are sure to give it the best shot keeping there performances in the last three editions of Hockey India League in mind.
Malaysia have been invited as a late entrant with the last-minute withdrawl of arch-rivals Pakistan, that without saying takes some sheen off the event.
Pool A: Argentina (Winners in 2005), Australia (Winners in 1997), Austria (on debut), Korea (4th in 1989)
Pool B: Netherlands (Runners-up in 1985, 2009), Malaysia (4th in 1979, 1983, 2013), Belgium (6th in 2013), Egypt (9th in 1997)
Pool C: Germany (Winners in 1983, 1985, 1989, 1993, 2009, 2013), Spain (3rd in 2005), New Zealand (4th in 2009), Japan (11th in 1997)
Pool D: India (Winners in 2001, Runners-up in 1997), England (4th in 1997, 2001), Canada (8th in 1983), South Africa (11th in 2001)