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There is plenty of excitement over India being awarded the 2017 Under-17 football World Cup but India is already playing host to a Junior World Cup. The Junior Hockey World Cup kicked off today with Belgium shocking holders Germany and Pakistan edging Egypt 3-2.
Now it is time for India's opener against Netherlands. The Indian team is one of the favourites, though the FIH president said it would be tough for the home side to lift the trophy. However, India's coach, Greg Clark, is much more optimistic.
He feels home conditions and a strong team make India one of the favourites to win the Junior Hockey World Cup.
"We feel we have prepared well. First game of every tournament is really important. It gives you good momentum going forward. It gives you good confidence. I think we have a very good team at the moment. I think we have a very strong team. There are quite a few players who will go on to represent India in senior international hockey. We are playing at home so I think we have as good a chance than anybody.
"It's a well-balanced side. I think we have good defensive structure, being as organised as possible in all facets of defence. Obviously attack is the tradition of Indian hockey. There is lots of flair in the team. Indian hockey is renowned for its attacking flair. If we can balance our organised defence with our natural ability, I think we will be in good stead in the tournament."
Clark conceded that his wards would feel the pressure to perform before the home crowd but refused to look too far ahead in the tournament.
"We have sufficient time in the pool if we don't get a positive result tomorrow. So we are not putting too much pressure on ourselves. We just gonna go out there and hopefully can do the business tomorrow," he said.
"We have reasonably high aspirations. We want to go as far as possible. But there won't be any easy games, it is the World Cup. Everybody will fight hard. Our priority is one game at a time. So all our focus is on Netherlands right now. "Consistency is not a huge concern for me because I think it will be the same for everybody. It's all about being accurate on the night."
With inputs from PTI