Pool B Preview: Argentina, New Zealand, Australia & China aiming for glory
This Saturday, the thrilling finale of the inaugural women’s Hockey World League gets underway in the Argentine city of San Miguel de Tucuman.
The tournament features eight of the finest women’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.
Thousands of fans are expected to attend the matches in Argentina, with a global audience of millions following the action on television or via the live streaming provided on the FIH You Tube channel. It promises to be an absolutely sensational event; the perfect way to bring the curtain down on a superb year of women’s international hockey.
In the second of two event previews, we take a look at the teams that will meet in Pool B, which features tournament hosts Argentina, Oceania rivals New Zealand and Australia as well as 2008 Olympic Silver medallists China. To read our preview for Pool A, click here!
Current FIH World Ranking: 1
How they qualified: Hosts / 3rd place - Investec Hockey World League Semi Final, London (ENG)
About the team: Alongside the Netherlands, “Las Leonas” have been the dominant force in women’s hockey for well over a decade. The team are the reigning world champions, having won the 2010 title in Rosario, the home city of star player and seven times World Player of the Year Luciana Aymar. Even at the age of 36, Aymar is still the driving force of the Argentina team and a player who is globally feared and respected in equal measure. The host nation – who are also the Silver medallists from the London 2012 Olympic Games – will take some beating on home soil, where the fans are sure to turn out in their thousands just to catch a glimpse of their sporting icons.
Current FIH World Ranking: 4
How they qualified: 4th place - Rabobank Hockey World League Semi Final, Rotterdam (NED)
About the team: Under the guidance of coach and former Australia international Mark Hager, New Zealand’s Black Sticks have enjoyed arguably their most successful period in history. In 2011, the team claimed their first ever Champions Trophy medal when they took third place at the tournament in Amsterdam, and a year later narrowly missed out on an Olympic medal when they were beaten by Great Britain in the Bronze medal match. Players to watch in their exciting squad include attacking midfielder Krystal Forgesson, quick-silver forward Anita Punt and team captain Kayla Sharland, a midfielder who was nominated for the FIH Player of the Year award in 2012.
Current FIH World Ranking: 5
How they qualified: 1st place - Investec Hockey World League Semi Final, London (ENG)
About the team: It has been some time since the Hockeyroos were the dominant force in world hockey, but the momentum that the current group is gathering under coach Adam Commens suggests that they are firmly on track to be challenging for all the top honours over coming years. Australia’s young guns have hit some seriously impressive form in 2013, claiming first place finishes at the Hockey World League Semi Final (London) and Oceania Cup continental championship. The majority of the squad from the HWL success in London will make the trip to Tucumán, including star players Casey Eastham, Teneal Attard, Madonna Blyth and Anna Flanagan, the 2012 FIH Young Player of the Year.
Current FIH World Ranking: 7
How they qualified: 4th place - Investec Hockey World League Semi Final, London (ENG)
About the team: China come into the Hockey World League Final in the middle of a transitional phase, with a talented crop of young players who are beginning to establish themselves at the highest level. The team showed great form in the early stages of September’s Asia Cup continental championship in Kuala Lumpur, topping Pool A with three wins from three matches. However, they could not take their early form into the latter stages of the competition and finished fourth behind Japan (1st), Korea (2nd) and India (3rd). Three players have 100 caps to their respective names, with Wang Mengyu, De Jiaojiao and Xu Xiaoxu being by far and away the most experienced players in the squad.
To see the complete squad lists for all of the teams competing in the Argentina Hockey World League Final, please click here. To see the match schedule, click here.
Remember, the FIH will be live streaming every match on the FIH You Tube channel, ensuring that you do not miss a thing. There will also be regular updates on all of our social media channels, links to which you can find below. We hope you enjoy the action!
Live Streaming and highlights: www.youtube.com/fihockey
Twitter: www.twitter.com/fih_hockey . Hashtag: #hwl