Bhubaneswar — Phil Roper says he wouldn’t want to come up against this England side at the men’s World Cup, as Paul Revington’s troops take on Spain to secure their passage in India to the quarter-finals.
England have yet to concede at the tournament after two games and victory, coupled with a helping hand from Wales, who play hosts India, will see them finish top of Pool D.
“We left a little bit out there and we would loved to have beaten India in India,” Roper said of their last match in Rourkela. “Looking forward to Spain, the vibe is really good in the group. Anyone you step across in the World Cup has their threats and we have to put ourselves out completely.
“There are a lot of happy and excited boys ready to play in the final game. The talent and belief going through this team is another brick to our armoury and I think people haven’t seen enough of it in the past. I wouldn’t want to come across us at the moment.”
Roper and Co have put the memorable match at the Birsa Munda stadium to one side but it remains a match which will be etched into the memory of those who were there.
“When you first set foot in a stadium like that which is purpose built for hockey it’s pretty mind blowing and it isn’t too hard to get motivated about,” said Roper.
“We sometimes play back in front of two men and his dog and it’s a bit easier to run out to an atmosphere which is fizzing with life and hockey energy.”
Thursday matches – Full schedule
All times local (UTC+5:30)
Malaysia v New Zealand 1PM (Bhubaneswar)
Netherlands v Chile 3PM (Bhubaneswar)
Spain v England 5PM (Bhubaneswar)
India v Wales 7PM (Bhubaneswar)
Who needs what in Pool C and D
The final round of matches in Pool C and D take place in Bhubaneswar on Thursday, with direct quarter-final or cross-over matches at stake.
Pool winners will earn a six-day break, while runners-up will play an extra match to reach the last eight. It remains to be seen whether this format, as with 2018, will help or hinder teams.
The Netherlands have already qualified for the quarterfinals from Pool C. Both New Zealand and Malaysia need an outcome from their meeting as they battle for qualification, while Chile must get something from their Dutch meeting.
In Pool D, both England and India are relying on better goal difference to see who finishes top. India play after England so will know what they need to do against Wales.
Spain must win to qualify automatically, a draw will see them have a cross-over chance, while Wales must beat India and hope England score plenty to overhaul the goal difference deficit.
What they say
“It’s going to be an exciting one. We haven’t played in a crowd like it before. We’ve had glimpses of it here when India have played after us, but it makes for a really exciting game and big thank you to all our supporters who have made the trip.
“We showed against England that we don’t give up until the final whistle. It was nice to get a goal, we kept going all the way to the final whistle.
“Against India, it will be the chance to play in front of a big crowd and put down a big performance.
“We played really well towards the end and it’s a shame we can’t do that at the start of a game and be a goal up instead of two down. If we start strong against India and play the way we can, we can compete with any team in the world. It’s about doing it for 60 minutes and not 15 minutes.”
Wales – James Carson
“We are creating opportunities so I am not worried about that. We just need to focus on the execution of the skills.
“The most important thing is a little bit of calmness. ‘Aaram se, aaram se’. I think sometimes they are perhaps rushing a little bit, making not the right choices. “Those are things that can happen in the heat of battle.
“Against England, we made a lot of chances and a lot better choices. I thought their keeper played very well. Our positioning is kinda ok but we need to work on our execution. Don’t think there’s too much that needs tweaking.”
Graham Reid – India coach