Rajendra Prasad Mohapatra

After being denied direct qualification berth in quarterfinals, hosts India will aim to improve upon their attacking woes in the crossover match against the New Zealand in the FIH Odisha Men’s Hockey World Cup 2023 at Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar on Sunday.

The 12th ranked Kiwis finished third in Pool C with a victory and two losses.

Though the sixth-ranked hosts will start favourites in front of a jam-packed Kalinga Stadium, it would be wise for India not to underestimate the Black Sticks. They are quite capable to script an upset and coach Graham Reid has already issued a warning to his team against any kind of complacency. In the Pro League, the Kiwis taught India how tough they can be to beat.

Key midfielder Hardik Singh has already been ruled out of the remainder of the tournament after he failed to recover from his hamstring injury that he sustained in the group stage match against England. The key player’s absence will be a big setback for India as they have been struggling a lot in the attacking department. Hardik will be replaced by Raj Kumar Pal.

In the absence of Hardik, the performance of senior players like Mandeep Singh and Akashdeep will be key for the hosts.

Though, India have an edge over New Zealand, the Kiwis in recent times have proved that they are not pushovers anymore. They have some world class players in their ranks and the Men in Blue will have to be at their best to pose challenge to them.