European powers Belgium and Germany headline Pool B

Hockey World Cup 2023 is following a format group stage followed by knockout stages.

The 16 teams are divided into four pools of four teams each. The top team from every pool qualifies for the quarter-finals and the second and third-placed teams battle with teams from other groups to get a berth in the quarter-finals.

Here is how the four teams in Pool B are set up.

Belgium

World Rank: 2nd, 2018 World Cup Finish: Champions

From the European circuit to World Champions, the rise of Belgium in International hockey has been phenomenal and their achievements are a testament to that. Popularly known as the ‘Red Lions’, Belgium has won World Cup (2018), Olympics Gold (2021), European Championship (2019) and FIH Hockey Pro League (2020-21) in the past five years.

Kalinga Stadium is the place where they lifted the 2018 World Cup trophy and they are back in the same place to defend it. Coached by Michael Van den Heuvel, Belgium is home to some of the finest exponents of field hockey and players who are serial winners.

From the likes of Vincent Vanasch, Loic Van Doren, Arthur Van Doren, Alexander Hendrickx, Tom Boon and many more, Belgium will field a galaxy of stars with their title defence.

Although the title favorites will face stiff competition from their continental rivals Germany for the direct qualification berth.

Squad: Loic Van Doren, Arthur Van Doren, Vincent Vanasch, John-John Dohmen, Florent Van Aubel, Tom Boon, Sebastien Dockier, Cedric Charlier, Gauthier Boccard, Nicolas De Kerpel, Alexander Hendrickx, Felix Denayer (captain), Simon Gougnard, Arthur De Sloover, Loick Luypaert, Antoine Kina, Victor Wegnez, Tanguy Cosyns

Germany

World Rank: 4th, 2018 World Cup Finish: 5th

A powerhouse in field hockey, Germany has endured a few close finishes in the last few tournaments. They finished 5th in the 2018 World Cup and lost to a spirited Indian side in the Olympics to lose the bronze medal.

With the addition of penalty corner maverick Gonzalo Peillat – the man who fired Argentina to Olympic gold at Rio 2016, Germany is brimming with confidence. They already have the likes of Alexander Stadler, Christopher Ruhr, Niklas Wellen and Mats Grambusch in their ranks.

Technically astute and well-equipped with specialists, Germany’s biggest challenge will be to top the group with the presence of World Champions in it.

Squad: Alexander Stadler, Mathias Müller, Mats Grambusch, Lukas Windfeder, Niklas Wellen, Tom Grambusch, Teo Hinrichs, Gonzalo Peillat, Christopher Rühr, Justus Weigand, Marco Miltkau, Martin Zwicker, Hannes Müller, Timur Oruz, Thies Prinz, Moritz Trompertz, Moritz Ludwig, Jean Danneberg

Japan

World Rank: 16th, 2018 World Cup Finish: N/A

Japan will feature in the world cup after a long wait of 16 years. With a pretty young team, the 2018 Asian Games champions have a point to prove to the world.

Japan’s latest outing was the FIH Nations Cup where they defeated the likes of Canada and Pakistan to finish sixth. Looking at the group lineup, it will be tough for Japan to finish in the top two spots but if they finish third, knockout games can be anyone’s game.

Captain Seren Tanaka will have the responsibility of leading a pretty young side against the heavyweights of field hockey.

Squad: Koji Yamasaki, Shota Yamada, Yusuke Kawamura, Yamato Kawahara, Seren Tanaka (captain), Kentaro Fukuda, Taiki Takade, Takuma Niwa, Raiki Fujishima, Ken Nagayoshi, Hiro Saito, Ryosei Kato, Ryoma Ooka, Masaki Ohashi, Kaito Tanaka, Kisho Kuroda, Masato Kobayashi, Takashi Yoshikawa

Korea

World Rank: 10th, 2018 World Cup Finish: N/A

The current Asian Champions Korea are coming in the Hockey World Cup with two podium finishes in different tournaments. Korea finished second behind Malaysia in the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup.

They also finished in the bronze medal position in the inaugural FIH Nations Cup. Although the finish doesn’t guarantee Korea a spot in the FIH Pro League, it has boosted the confidence of the team just before the marquee tournament.

Squad: Kim Jaehyeon, Lee Gangsan, Lee Namyong, Jung Manjae, Hwang Taeil, Lee Jungjun, Seo Inwoo, Ji Woo Cheon, Lee Hyeseung, Kim Jaehan, Kim Sunghyun, Jeong Junwoo, Lee Seunghoon, Kim Hyeongjin, Jang Jonghyun, Jeon Byungjin, Yang Jihun, Lee Juyoung

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