Rajendra Prasad Mohapatra

After having a narrow win against debutants Wales, hosts India have been deprived of a direct berth in the quarterfinals of the FIH Odisha Men’s Hockey World Cup 2023. The Men in Blue finished second behind England in Pool D and will now have to go through the Crossover stage, where they will meet New Zealand at the Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar on Sunday.

However, coach Graham Reid feels that India will face a tough task against the Kiwis.

“Now we have a crossover game against New Zealand and the match is going to be tough. We played against the Kiwis in the Pro League. Our first game against them was very tough. The second match was a bit easier but I am telling you they will come out energized like Wales. We are looking forward to that game,” said Reid, who had guided India to a bronze medal in the Tokyo Olympics in 2021.

Reid admitted that India missed the high energy and creative brilliance of midfielder Hardik Singh against the spirited Wales. Hardik missed the match with an injury.

As per Reid, Hardik is recovering well and his return to the playing eleven will bolster the team further.

“Hardik is getting fitter and finer with each passing day. However, we are keeping our fingers crossed about him. The final call on his availability for the all-important crossover match against New Zealand will be taken on January 21,” said Reid.