Chris Cargo has hailed the “amazing” World Cup atmosphere as Bhubaneswar and the Indian crowds have gone wild for the event, turning the city into a mecca for hockey.
“The stadium has been really busy for both of our games with plenty of noise throughout the match,” he told The Hook.“The crowds are bigger than at Rio and there is more noise around the stadium. Indians love their hockey so they are supporting the tournament really well. There are signs and murals all over the city.
“It’s great to have any Irish support here in the stadium. We always have support wherever we go in the world and we can’t thank them enough.
While the Irish press pack has not been in attendance at the event – save for The Hockey Paper’s prolific Rod Gilmour who has been servicing a number of Irish outlets – camera men and journalists have followed the team’s every move while locals regularly ask for photos.
“The support and coverage of the tournament has been great. We have been out of the hotel a few times for visits to local attractions and the local people are keen to have pictures etc, that’s definitely not normal for us but it’s been nice to experience. I think a few of the guys are a little more reserved but the Indians are all very nice!”
One of the images of the first week of the competition was the mass of bugs circulating around the floodlights. Since some early problems on the pitch, with David Harte saying there were a few too many getting inside his helmet, the hosts have been spraying the area and it has caused less of a problem according to Cargo.“The bugs seem to come out at dusk. Every night is a little different. On the main pitch they haven’t affected us too much and you don’t really notice it when you are playing.”
On the pitch, while Ireland missed a chance to get their first win of the World Cup against China, they still go into their final group game with their fate in their own hands.
Player of the match Alan Sothern said the goal remains the same: “The number one goal before the start of the tournament was to reach the quarter-final and that hasn’t changed.
“We came out against China to win and if you look at the stats, we edged the game but didn’t make it count. The group is tight and it’s coming down to the last game. We will fire on Friday.
“We have a great, friendly rivalry with England and no one will be holding back. It’s a World Cup and both sides will be out to win to put themselves into the crossover games.
Shane O’Donoghue concurred: “There can be no motivation against England, it’s always there. We have to go into the game with plenty of belief which we always do.”