Junior hockey world cup to start Sunday

June 6th, 2009 - 11:50 pm ICT by IANS  

Singapore, June 6 (IANS) Twenty teams will compete in the junior World Cup hockey tournament that begins here and in Malaysia Sunday.
The World Cup officially kicked off here Saturday with a glittering opening ceremony in the Seng Kang stadium.

The 15-day event will see 20 teams playing out 82 matches.

India will begin their campaign against Singapore Monday.

Strong European teams, the Netherlands, Spain and Germany are strong contenders in the tournament.

Current junior World Champions Argentina, Australia and New Zealand also have a good chance.

Asian Champions India are the dark horse in the tournament after a hugely successful last 12 months.

In Pool A, Argentina are favourites, but they have an entirely different side from four years ago when they lifted the Cup.

They face stiff competition in the preliminary round from Pakistan, who line up with a very experienced squad, with a few having participated in last year’s Olympic Games and the recent Asia Cup.

Belgium must be considered a potential force at the junior level as well, and may well spring a surprise on their opponents. Egypt and Russia, two relatively unknown squads, complete the first quintet.

Pool B has Germany and Australia Chile, Japan and South Africa.

Germany have traditionally been struggling to reach the very top at the junior level in the last few years, but it cannot be overlooked that they are current World and Olympic Champions at the senior level.

Australia have been preparing exhaustively for the event and will find it easier to cope with the temperatures than the European teams.

Olympic silver medalist Roc Oliva leads Spain, the current European champions at the junior level, in Pool C that has strong teams like South Korea, England, Malaysia.

Pool D sees the traditionally strong team from the Netherlands challenged by India and New Zealand. Poland and Singapore are the remaining two teams in this group.

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