Wednesday, December 6, 2023

Hockey World Cup: England’s rare goalscorer ready for crazy India crowd

ROURKELANick Park is ready for the biggest game of his life on Sunday night (7pm India, 1:30pm UK) when England take on India in their second World Cup match.

Park, 23, scored inside 40 seconds on his men’s World Cup debut in England’s 5-0 win over Wales on Friday for his first senior goal, the former Nottingham student taking his chance with a volley strike from Sam Ward’s baseline lift into the Englishman’s path.

Now he’s set to line up in front of a 20,000 sell out – a win over the hosts putting England in control to top their group. “I’m not known for my goalscoring. I think I was a bit lost getting up there!” Park joked to The Hockey Paper.

“To score inside 40 seconds in your World Cup debut is something I wouldn’t have imagined happening. It was crazy, a full crowd, and I have never seen anything like this stadium in hockey before. It was a dream come true really.”

Indeed, midfielder Park – read our feature interview on the World Cup debutant here – can’t even recall the last time he scored for Surbiton.

England have taken the ‘Bazball’ approach to their hockey under new coach Paul Revington. And the players have spoken of their enjoyment at playing free-flowing, attacking hockey as they bid for a first World Cup title.

Park was the latest to back England’s new approach. He said: “We want to be attacking, direct and score goals. To see some of those things come together in a big tournament is great to see.

“We know we will have to be good defensively as India can be frightening on the attack and you can’t switch off at any point.

High times: England are enjoying new coaching structure under Paul Revington PIC: Worldsportpics

“Hopefully we can then put in our attacking play, be direct and when we get our chances to take them.”

Park, who will ready himself with some techno or drum & bass, knows that India will provide a stern test in their own backyard. These matches are career highlights and the Surbiton man can’t wait for Sunday night.

“I have to try and calm myself down as I was absolutely buzzing when I woke up on Friday,” he noted. “You have to try and contain your excitement.

“The boys who have done it before say it is something you want to do and tick off in India. I can’t wait to get out there, the Indian public love their hockey and it will be an honour to go out there in front of 20,000 crazy fans.”

India are unbeaten in their last four meetings with England, the stats pointing towards PCs becoming the key factor in victory.

“We need to take our chances in the circle,” added Park. “To score five against Wales was great, we’re happy.”

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