Bangladesh's bid for the Hockey World Cup qualification kicks off today as they face mighty Ireland in one of three matches of the World Hockey League (Round-2) on the opening day at the Major Dhyan Chan Hockey Stadium in New Delhi, India.
Bangladesh are the fourth-strongest side in the group on paper, after India, Ireland and China and are just ahead of lowly Fiji in the six-team group from which the top two teams will qualify for the semifinal round.
Bangladesh, ranked 40th in the world, will be the underdogs against Ireland, who are rankled 15th, and even a draw against the European side will be considered an excellent result before they take on other favourites China and India.
Bangladesh had qualified for Round-2 by becoming undefeated champions in Round-1 in September, 2012 where they beat Singapore, Thailand and Hong Kong. Buoyed by that success, and two months of preparation, Bangladesh set their sights on an upset, either against Ireland or China, before they left for India five days ago. Apart from the big three -- India, Ireland and China -- Bangladesh will be the favourites against Fiji who are ranked 71st, and 36th- ranked Oman who lost against Bangladesh 6-3 in the AHF Cup last year.
No matter what, it can be said that today's match against Ireland will decide Bangladesh's fate in the qualification. The match will start at 4:30pm Bangladesh time, and will be telecast live on satellite channel Ten Sports.