Weighing under a sea of expectations to regain the title after 43 years, India will have to top their pool to have a realistic chance of breaking their World Cup jinx, said High-Performance Director David John on Thursday.

Ranked fifth, India are placed in Pool C alongside current Olympic silver medallist and world no. 3 Belgium, South Africa and Canada.

John said India will need to beat Belgium in the pool stages to avoid cross-over round and directly qualify for the quarterfinals to enhance their chances.

“We have a very balanced team and conditions are also in our favour. There is tremendous expectations from us and we know that. But we need to top our pool. We need to beat Belgium and avoid cross-overs,” John

India will open their campaign against South Africa on November 28 before squaring off against Belgium and Canada on December 2 and December 8 respectively.

Citing the example of the women’s World Cup where India had to play the cross-overs after finishing third in their pool, the exercise physiologist-turned High Performance Director said an extra game plays a big part in such a long tournament.

In the women’s hockey World Cup held in London earlier this year, India entered the quarterfinals via the cross-over route but failed to cross the last-eight hurdle, losing to Ireland in penalty shoot-off.

“Take the example of our women’s team, we made the quarterfinals after winning our cross-over match but that extra match drained our girls. That extra match will always take a toll on the fitness of the players.So we need to avoid cross-overs and win against Belgium.” said the Australian.

India grouped in Pool C along with World No.3 Belgium, Canada and South Africa will need to finish on top of the pool to secure a place in the Quarter Final.

India men’s team for the Odisha Hockey Men’s World Cup Bhubaneswar 2018:

PR Sreejesh, Krishan Bahadur Pathak,Harmanpreet Singh, Birendra Lakra, Varun Kumar, Kothajit Singh Khadangbam, Surender Kumar, Amit Rohidas, Manpreet Singh, Chinglensana Singh Kangujam, Nilakanta Sharma, Hardik Singh, Sumit, Akashdeep Singh, Mandeep Singh, Dilpreet Singh, Lalit Kumar Upadhyay, Simranjeet Singh.

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