World No.7 England arrived late evening at the Biju Patnaik International Airport for the much-awaited Odisha Men’s Hockey World League Final Bhubaneswar 2017 scheduled to begin on December 1 at the iconic Kalinga Stadium. The team was welcomed by Government of Odisha officials accompanied by host nation Hockey India.
The tournament will see the top eight teams in the world battle it out between 1 – 10 December 2017. Grouped in Pool B along with World No.2 Australia, World No.6 India and Olympic Bronze Medalist Germany, England will look to continue a good run in 2017 that saw them win the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup earlier this year. They also beat Germany to win the Bronze Medal at the European Championship. “Yes, we’ve had a good summer and have tasted some exciting victories. We would be hoping to carry on that momentum here against the top teams. It will be a close competition and the team is really excited to be here in Bhubaneswar. We would be looking at showcasing our best hockey against the top teams in the world,” expressed 25-year-old skipper Phil Roper.
Interestingly, their most experienced player Barry Middleton will complete 400 international caps for England in their match against Australia on 4 December 2017. To have an experienced player like Middleton in their squad is always an advantage said Roper. “Oh, I always pinch myself when I think of how many matches Barry has played for the country. Playing his 400th game here will be huge and he is the most popular player in our team where ever we travel across the globe,” added Roper.