Men's FIH Series Finals: Final - India vs South Africa preview, prediction, telecast, date, start time and where to watch online
The home team have assured themselves of a place in the Olympic qualifiers after beating Japan 7-2 in the semifinal of the FIH Series Finals but do have a lot to prove to their fans and detractors alike.
The Indian men's team have not won a single tournament outright since being crowned champions in the Dhaka Asia Cup back in late 2017 - although Harendra Singh's boys had shared the Asian Champions Trophy title along with Pakistan following a washout last year.
A golden opportunity awaits coach Graham Reid and his boys as they look to finish on top of the heap by getting past the African champions who have been struggling thus far at Bhubaneswar.
Ranked sixteenth in the world, the South Africans have historically troubled their more fancied Asian rivals, especially in major tournaments, but the Indians have enjoyed a period of ascendancy of late.
The Indians failed to get past South Africa in three World Cup meetings over the years - at Sydney in 1994, the scoreline read 2-2 which then changed to 1-1 at the 2006 edition of the tournament in Monchengladbach, and the Delhi 2010 encounter ended with the match tied at 3 goals apiece.
It was under Harendra Singh's tutelage that Manpreet and co. finally overcame the South Africans by a 5-0 margin at Odisha 2018.
The Indians led by Bharat Chettri faced South Africa in an effort to avoid the wooden spoon at the London Olympics, but the eight-time gold medalists finished rock bottom after losing 2-3.
Tim Drummond scored for his team against the Indians at London 2012 - and is part of the South African squad that will take on the hosts at the Kalinga Stadium this evening.
The South Africans failed to make it to the knockout stages in last year's World Cup and have continued to disappoint in the pool stages of the FIH Series Finals, losing to the United States by a 0-2 margin before thrashing minnows Mexico 6-0.
A narrow 2-1 win over Russia in the crossovers was followed by a win over the United States by an identical margin - with Nic Spooner scoring the winner in the very last minute.
Both India and South Africa have achieved their objective of booking a place in the Olympic qualifiers and will be looking to end the tournament on a high - but going by recent performances and the vast difference in rankings, the home team will be expected to emerge triumphant by a handsome margin in front of their doting fans.
Here is how you can catch all the action:
Event: Men's FIH Series Finals 2019
Venue: Bhubaneswar, India
Date: 15 June 2019
Time: 7:15 pm Indian Standard Time (IST)
Telecast: Star Sports, Star Sports HD
Live Streaming: Hotstar
Live Updates: Sportskeeda
Both sides will look to play fast and attacking hockey and the spectators can look forward to an entertaining contest. The Indian strikers are at their best when not under significant pressure - and with the passage to the Olympic qualifiers cleared, Reid's charges will aim to set the galleries ablaze at Bhubaneswar.