Sixteen teams are set to compete for the Men's Hockey World Cup, which opens in Odisha tomorrow, led by defending champions Belgium ©Getty Images

Olympic champions Belgium are seeking to retain the Men's Hockey World Cup, which is set to begin tomorrow in the Indian state of Odisha.

The Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar holds fond memories for the Belgians, as it was the venue where they beat The Netherlands on penalties to win the World Cup for the first time in 2018.

They followed it up with a victory on penalties against Australia to take Olympic gold at Tokyo 2020.

Belgium's captain Felix Denayer believes that his team have the knowhow to propel them to further success.

"I think the tournament will be a challenge, but we also have the experience so we feel confident and we are very hungry to retain the trophy," he said.

"We are an ambitious group.

"And I think we need these kinds of challenges to perform at our best level."

Belgium won the 2018 Men's Hockey World Cup in Bhubaneswar, and added Olympic gold at Tokyo 2020 ©Getty Images
Belgium won the 2018 Men's Hockey World Cup in Bhubaneswar, and added Olympic gold at Tokyo 2020 ©Getty Images

Belgium are due to start their defence of the trophy against South Korea on Saturday (January 14), before facing two-time winners Germany in a heavyweight clash on Tuesday (January 17) and Japan on January 20 in their final Pool B match.

The tournament is scheduled to start tomorrow when Argentina take on South Africa at the Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar.

Argentina won Olympic gold at Rio 2016, but their best performance to date at the World Cup was third in 2014 in The Hague in The Netherlands.

They are joined in Pool A by Australia, three-time winners and who earned back-to-back titles in 2010 and 2014, but missed out on the final for the first time since 1998 at the last World Cup after a semi-final defeat to The Netherlands.

The Olympic silver medallists, winners of a seventh consecutive Commonwealth Games title last year, are due to start against France tomorrow.

Hosts India are also set to begin their World Cup tomorrow at the Birsa Munda International Hockey Stadium in Rourkela, the other venue being used for the first round of matches, and hold hopes of winning the event for the first time since 1975.

The Olympic bronze medallists face Spain in Pool D, following on from a match between England and World Cup debutants Wales.

England have ranked fourth at World Cups in 2010, 2014 and 2018.

Pool C features the other team set for their first appearance at the World Cup, with Chile playing New Zealand in their first match on Saturday.

The pool is headlined by The Netherlands, the losing finalists in 2014 and 2018 to prolong their wait for a fourth World Cup, and are set to face Malaysia in their opener.

The top side in each of the four pools is set to advance to the quarter-finals on January 24 and 25, with those ranked second and third playing cross-over matches to join them in the last eight.

Semi-finals are scheduled for January 27, before the tournament concludes with medal matches on January 29.