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Germany eye third straight world title

February 26, 2010 22:01 IST
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Olympic champions Germany will look to set aside security fears and focus on clinching their third straight world title when the men's hockey World Cup kicks off on Sunday.

Indian police have promised "foolproof" security for the 12-team event in New Delhi after a bomb blast in the western city of Pune this month killed 15 people and raised safety concerns for visiting teams.

Tight security has been provided for the teams by organisers, who feared pull-outs, and spectators have been barred from entering the Dhyan Chand National Hockey Stadium until the start of the tournament.

"Most of our team members were worried about the security here. But the security report that we got gave us a lot of relief. We are happy with the security provided to us," New Zealand captain Phillip Burrows told reporters on Friday.

Top-ranked Germany and favourites Australia have been drawn in opposite groups. Australia beat the Olympic champions to win a record tenth Champions Trophy title in December.

"I think Australia are everyone's favourites for this tournament," Germany captain Maximillian Muller admitted.

"Of course, we are fancying our chances, but I think India and Pakistan also can be expected to spring surprises because they are more used to playing in the conditions here," he added.

Germany, who beat Australia in the previous two World Cup finals, face Netherlands, South Korea, New Zealand, Canada and Argentina in the pool stage.

World number two Australia, who last won the World Cup in 1986, have been grouped with hosts India, Olympic silver medallists Spain, England, Pakistan and South Africa.

Eight-times Olympic champions India are hoping to revive their national game's fortunes after they failed to qualify for the Summer Games for the first time in Beijing two years ago.

India meet arch-rivals Pakistan in a clash between the sport's former powerhouses that is expected to light up the opening day.

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