Bhubaneswar: Despite a long journey to India, Olympic Champions and current World No.1 Argentina arrived in full gusto on Monday morning at the Biju Patnaik International Airport here for the prestigious Odisha Men’s Hockey World League Final Bhubaneswar 2017.
The tournament is scheduled to begin on December 1 at the iconic Kalinga Stadium. Germany, who are grouped with India in Pool B, also arrived in the afternoon.
The teams were welcomed by Government of Odisha officials accompanied by host nation Hockey India.
For Argentina, the priority is to finish in the Final of the tournament and retain their world ranking.
“Despite a long journey and the tiredness, the team is extremely excited to be here in India. This is a big competition and for us it’s important to stay No.1 in the world which means we have to ensure best results in every match,” stated 27-year-old Agustín Mazzilli.
Having been here in Bhubaneswar earlier this year for the Hockey India League, Mazzilli said, “It’s is always a pleasure returning to India. People here love hockey and it’s a great atmosphere to play in Bhubaneswar.”
Speaking about the Indian line-up, Mazzilli said, “I have played with everyone on the team and some of the youngsters who have come into the mix are extremely good. We play a practice match against them today (Thursday) and hope to play them again in the knockout stage.”
Argentina are grouped with Belgium, Netherlands and Spain in Pool A and will play their first match on December 2 against Belgium.
Meanwhile, Stefan Kermas, Head Coach of Germany, on arriving in Bhubaneswar said, “I would like our team to play in this atmosphere here and get used to the conditions before we come back next year to play the World Cup. We are looking forward to a good tournament and playing the teams, we haven’t played this year.”
Netherlands is expected to arrive later this evening while on Sunday, Defending Champions Australia, Olympic Silver Medalists Belgium and World No.7 England arrived in Bhubaneswar for the tournament.