New Delhi: The Indian hockey team has been drawn in a tough group alongside Olympic champion Germany and World Cup runner-up the Netherlands among others for the Champions Trophy to be held in Bhubaneswar from December 6-14.
Placed in pool B, India will also have 2014 World Cup bronze medallist Argentina to deal with. Pool A consists of 2014 World Cup and defending champions Australia, Commonwealth Games bronze medallist England, Euro nations silver medallist Belgium and defending Asian Games gold medallist Pakistan.
Since its inception in 1978, Pakistan remains the only Asian team to win the competition. They earned a place at the 2014 competition through their third-place finish in the 2012 tournament in Melbourne.
The opening day of the tournament will feature all eight teams taking to the field on India's first newly built Olympic standard pink and blue hockey pitch in the Kalinga Stadium.
The 5,000-seater stadium also serves as the home ground for Hero Hockey India League franchise, Kalinga Lancers. FIH President, Leandro Negre said: "We are excited about the tournament as we know fans in Bhubaneswar love hockey, as witnessed by the packed stands during the Hero Hockey India League earlier this year at the Kalinga Stadium."
"This is indeed a very exciting time for hockey lovers as the best teams of the world are converging in Bhubaneswar to win the coveted trophy. The fan following of the sport is on an upswing in India.
"The country is all geared up to host the international teams and witness some unforgettable hockey moments being created in Bhubaneswar in December this year," said Narinder Batra, Hockey India Secretary General.