Men's Junior Hockey World Cup 2021: Pakistan, South Africa and Korea teams arrive in Bhubaneswar
Pakistan team was accorded a warm welcome by Hockey India upon arrival.
Bhubaneswar: The Pakistan team arrived here on Saturday for the upcoming FIH Junior World Cup and was accorded a warm welcome by Hockey India.
The team from across the border missed the 2016 edition of the tournament in Lucknow owing to issues related to visa.
"Stills from the airport as we welcome the Pakistani contingent to Bhubaneswar for the FIH Odisha Hockey Men's Junior World Cup 2021," Hockey India said in tweet.
Welcome to India @PHFOfficial 🙏
— Hockey India (@TheHockeyIndia) November 20, 2021
Hours before that, the South African and Korean teams too landed in the city.
Grouped in Pool A, along with Belgium, Chile, and Malaysia, South Africa are in for a challenging start in the group stage.
"It's been a period of difficult two years due to the pandemic with lots of training and preparations getting disrupted. But we have prepared the best we can back at home. So, no excuses, every team has faced similar challenges, and we are ready to go," said Sihle Ntuli, South Africa head coach.
The tournament is scheduled to be held here from 24 November to 5 December.
Excited to compete at the iconic Kalinga Stadium, Ntuli said, "I believe it is the best stadium in the world and I am very happy for my players getting the opportunity to play at the stadium. We are very excited."
Korea also arrived on Saturday afternoon, and the team captain Soung Min Bae talked about their preparations for the tournament.
"We prepared for the World Cup in Donghae, in Korea. We held a national camp where we had to play at least 10 matches, which has made our team stronger.
"Our players do not have much experience of playing in such a big stadium, just like most players from all teams, but we are confident we will get better as the tournament progresses," he said.
South Africa will face off against Belgium in the first game of the tournament on 24 November, while Korea, who are placed in Group C along with the Netherlands, Spain, and the USA, will take on the Dutch team in their first game of the competition on 25 November.
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Since regular skipper Rani Rampal is recovering from an injury in Bengaluru, Savita will lead the side in the tournament, which is scheduled to be held between January 21-28 at the Sultan Qaboos Sports Complex.