Bhubaneswar: Ranked No 20 in the World, France Hockey team arrived here Thursday afternoon for the Odisha Hockey Men's World Cup Bhubaneswar 2018 to begin their campaign against New Zealand on November 29.
The team, though ranked lowest in the tournament, are hopeful of creating some upset wins to keep their chances alive in the prestigious event to commence on November 28 here at the iconic Kalinga Stadium.
France has been in hibernation at the world stage in men's field hockey. The European nation's previous appearance at the Summer Olympics in hockey came way back in 1972.
They last played in a World Cup in 1990 and earned a place in the Champions Trophy back in 1992.However in 2018, France has been ranked last (20th) in the FIH Men's Hockey standings. With the 2018 World Cup being expanded to 16 teams, France had a shot of qualifying for the Finals through the FIH World Hockey Series Semi-finals.
The French has been placed in Group A where they are up against Olympic champions Argentina, Spain, and New Zealand, but their draw against New Zealand last year means they are not a team to be taken lightly.
We are nothing to lose in this World Cup as we are the lowest ranked team. But our team definitely upset few top rated teams. Our boys are pretty young to handle the pressure, said chief coach Jeroen Delmee.The team to face Olympic Champion Argentina in the group stage matches.
Jeroen, however, said they were champion in the year 2016 adding that many things has been changed in last two years.
We will upset a team in the group stage which will help us to reach among the top 10 teams of the World, he remarked.Jeroen said " We are in a tough group but we have had good preparations and can cause a little bit of an upset in the tournament."
The team will begin their campaign against New Zealand on November 29 and are banking on their experienced players to ensure good fight against higher ranked teams.
"We have a good group of players with some of them who were part of the U-21 World Cup in Delhi where the team finished second, the chief coach said. (UNI)