Top guns ready to fight for honours in senior mens’ hockey nationals

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All eyes will be on top contenders like Hockey Punjab, Hockey Uttar Pradesh, Hockey Karnataka and Hockey Maharashtra, the semi-finalists of the previous edition when the 12th Hockey India Senior Men National Championship begins here on Wednesday.

The 12-day tournament will witness 28 teams vie for top honours. The teams have been divided into eight groups of three teams each.

In its previous edition held at Chinchwad near Pune in December 2021, the coveted tournament was won by Hockey Punjab after they beat Uttar Pradesh Hockey in a thrilling shootout while Hockey Karnataka finished third having beaten Hockey Maharashtra 5-2 in the third/fourth placing match.

This year, defending champions Hockey Punjab are in Pool A along with Hockey Rajasthan and Delhi Hockey. In Pool B, Uttar Pradesh Hockey will battle it out against Telangana Hockey and Chhattisgarh Hockey to make the quarter-finals while in Pool C Hockey Karnataka will take on Hockey Andhra Pradesh and Hockey Uttarakhand. In Pool D, Hockey Maharashtra will take on Hockey Bihar and Kerala Hockey.

Pool E comprises Hockey Chandigarh, Hockey Jharkhand, Hockey Jammu & Kashmir, Dadra & Nagar Haveli and Daman & Diu Hockey. In Pool F, Hockey Bengal, Le Puducherry Hockey, Hockey Gujarat and Hockey Arunachal will battle it out while in Pool G, Hockey Unit of Tamil Nadu, Manipur Hockey, Hockey Madhya Pradesh and Hockey Himachal are grouped. In Pool H, Hockey Haryana will take on the Hockey Association of Odisha, Assam Hockey and Goans Hockey.

The tournament will be closely watched by national selectors as the top performers will stand a chance to find a place in the national team’s probables.

“We are expecting good competition this year and believe all teams would have come well-prepared. Players are aware that a good show here will help them secure a place in the national camp and they will put up a good fight. For us, it’s important to take it match-by-match and first focus on our group matches,” stated C.S Poonacha, coach, Hockey Karnataka.

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