The Hero Hockey World League Final in New Delhi features eight of the finest men’s international teams in the world and is the culmination of a journey which began back in August 2012 when the first rounds of the Hockey World League were played.In the first of two event previews, we take a look at the teams that will do battle in Pool A: Germany, England, New Zealand and India. Our preview for Pool B, which features Australia, The Netherlands, Belgium and Argentina, will be published on Thursday.
Current FIH World Ranking: 1
How they qualified: 1st place – Hockey World League Semi Final, Johor Bahru (MAS)
About the team: 2013 was yet another great year for Germany. Building on an incredible 2012 which saw the side become Olympic champions for the second time in succession, the team coached by Markus Weise powered to glory at the Tri-Finance EuroHockey Nations continental championships before taking a first place finish at the Hockey World League Semi Final in Johor Bahru. They will be hoping for even more success in 2014, and you wouldn’t bet against them achieving it. A first place finish in the Hero Hockey World League Final would being the perfect preparation for their World Cup title challenge. The Germany squad is packed to the brim with dazzling talent and Olympic Gold medallists. Brilliant defender Martin Häner, midfield dynamo Tobias Hauke and instinctive goal-scorer Florian Fuchs will ensure that the world number 1 ranked team are among the front runners in New Delhi. The group also includes midfielder Jan-Philipp Rabente, who famously netted two goals as Germany claimed Olympic Gold by defeating the Netherlands in the final at London 2012. The team will be captained by 29-year-old attacking midfielder Oliver Korn, a player who has made over 150 international appearances for Germany.
Current FIH World Ranking: 4
How they qualified: 3rd place - Hockey World League Semi Final, Johor Bahru (MAS)
About the team: England come into the Hero Hockey World League Final boosted by the return of two hugely important players. Classy midfielder Ashley Jackson and powerful attacker Mark Gleghorne both re-join the squad following injuries which kept them out of England’s fourth place finish at the TriFinance EuroHockey Nations event in Boom, Belgium. The team finished third at the Hockey World League Semi Final in Johor Bahru, and produced enough evidence to ensure that they will be a team to be feared in New Delhi. England coach Bobby Crutchley has named their strongest possible squad for the HWL Final, with experienced trio Simon Mantell, Adam Dixon and Nick Catlin being named alongside brilliant captain Barry Middleton, a player considered to be among the very best attackers in the game. However, the team will be without defender and penalty corner specialist Richard Smith, who looks likely to miss much of the 2014 calendar due to knee surgery.
Current FIH World Ranking: 7
How they qualified: 4th place - Rabobank Hockey World League Semi Final, Rotterdam (NED)
About the team: New Zealand, coached by ex-Belgium boss and former Australian international player Colin Batch, qualified for this event thanks to a fourth place finish at the Rabobank Hockey World League Semi Final in Rotterdam, Netherlands. A highlight of that event was an impressive 3-3 draw with host nation the Netherlands on the first weekend, although the side fell to a 4-1 defeat to the same opponents in the 3-4 placement game at the end of the tournament. The Black Sticks squad has been strengthened by the return of two of its most experienced campaigners, with ace striker Simon Child and solid midfielder Steve Edwards being included following their return to international hockey at the recent Oceania Cup continental championship. Both Child and Edwards took a break from the team immediately after the London 2012 Olympic Games, and will be keen to make a big impression at the HWL Final in New Delhi. Defender Kane Russell has been rewarded for his sublime form at the recent Hero Hockey Junior World Cup, with his seven tournament goals earning him a place in the Black Sticks squad for the HWL Final.
Current FIH World Ranking: 10
How they qualified: Tournament hosts
About the team: India may have only managed a 6th place finish at the Rabobank Hockey World League Semi Final event in Rotterdam, but a strong showing at the Asia Cup continental championship provided plenty of evidence that they are really stepping up their game. A youthful India team battled to an impressive second place finish behind Korea at the Asia Cup, winning four of their five matches and giving a spirited showing against a Korea team packed with experience. The performances were extremely encouraging, and will give the team great confidence ahead of the challenge of facing the world’s best at the Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium. Recently appointed head coach and former Australia international striker Terry Walsh will be greatly looking forward to seeing how his team performs in this showpiece tournament, with sensational captain Sardar Singh aiming to lead his team to glory on home soil. VR Raghunath is another player well worth watching, being one of the most leathal penalty corner exponents in the world.
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