The 2018 Men's Hockey World Cup is on: Here’s what you need to know

India is hosting 16 of the world's best hockey teams over 19 days of competition - with action on Olympic Channel

The 14th edition of the Men's Hockey World Cup got underway after a colourful opening ceremony in Bhubaneswar, India.

16 nations are competing from November 28 to December 16 in a bid to lift the trophy.

Like its widely-publicised football equivalent, the World Cup is an event which takes place every four years, and begins with a pool stage.

Here's our quick look at what you need to know.

Pool A:

Argentina, New Zealand, Spain, France.

Reigning Olympic champions Argentina have had a difficult build up to the World Cup.

Early this year their inspirational coach Carlos Retegui parted ways with the side. German Orozco is now at the helm and plans to build on their Rio 2016 success.

The world's number two team still have plenty of their gold medal winning team members, and a relatively favourable draw in the pool stage, but have never won this tournament.

Pool B:

Australia, England, Ireland, China.

Keep an eye out for England v Ireland, which promises to be a tense local battle. The English have finished fourth in each of the last two tournaments.

Australia are the clear team to beat, not just in Pool B, but the tournament overall. The Kookaburras are ranked first in the world and are going for a three-peat after winning the last two editions.

Pool C:

Belgium, India, Canada, South Africa.

Runners-up at Rio 2016, Belgium, are currently ranked world number three and worth keeping an eye on. They're a side stacked with world-class players including Arthur Van Doren, who was voted 2017 Player of the Year and 2017 Rising Star of the Year. Their acrobatic goalkeeper Vincent Vanasch was also named 2017 Goalkeeper of the year.

But the main attraction in Pool C are hosts India, who cruised to a 5-0 victory over South Africa in the opening game.

India have only won the tournament once, twenty-three years ago in 1975. Since then, their international performance has suffered until recently. Under current coach Harendra Singh, they were the only undefeated team at the recent Asian Hockey Championship, which saw them joint-winners with Pakistan.

With the advantage of playing at home, the world number five team have their sights on a podium finish.

The team with the most World Cup trophies in their cabinet is Pakistan. The four-time tournament winners haven't stood on top of the podium since 1994, but their experience should not be underestimated.

Pool D:

Netherlands, Germany, Malaysia, Pakistan.

Four time Olympic Champions Germany have a young side. They have 18 players competing a World Cup for the first time, and the average age of the side is just 25 years old.

The Rio 2016 bronze medallists have been keeping a low profile in the build up to the tournament as they bid to win the tournament for a third time.

The Netherlands will be hungry for revenge. The pain of hosting the 2014 Hockey World Cup and falling to Australia, 6-1 in the final will not have been forgotten. Finishing 4th at Rio 2016 will also not be far from their minds.

They've since enlisted the help of Argentine coach Max Caldas. After successfully leading the Dutch women's national team to World Cup glory and Olympic gold, the 45-year-old is trying to help the men's team lift the World Cup for the first time since 1998.

Knockout Stage

The top team from each pool qualify automatically for the last eight.

The second and third placed teams will compete in crossover matches to determine the other four quarter-finalists.

Those quarter-finals begin on December 12th, with live action on OlympicChannel.com

That's where you can also watch semi-finals on December 15th, and the Final on December 16th.

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