Pool A Preview: Netherlands, England, Germany & Korea gearing up for title challenge
The thrilling finale of the inaugural women’s Hockey World League gets underway this weekend 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 first of two event previews, we take a look at the teams that will do battle in Pool A: the Netherlands, England, Germany and Korea. Our preview for Pool B, which features tournament hosts Argentina, Oceania rivals New Zealand and Australia as well as 2008 Olympic Silver medallists China, will be published on Friday.
Current FIH World Ranking: 2
How they qualified: 2nd place - Rabobank Hockey World League Semi Final, Rotterdam (NED)
About the team: The Netherlands have long been one of the most dominant forces in world hockey, and in recent years have claimed many of the biggest prizes in the game. They are the Olympic Gold medallists from both the Beijing 2008 and London 2012 Olympic Games, and are certain to be among the frontrunners for the Hockey World League crown. The side contains a number of the world’s finest players including Ellen Hoog and captain fantastic Maartje Paumen, who was named FIH Player of the Year both in 2011 and 2012. Although the team will be missing several key players through injury including Naomi van As, Kim Lammers and Eva de Goede, it goes without saying that they will be serious title contenders in Tucuman.
Current FIH World Ranking: 3
How they qualified: 2nd place – Investec Hockey World League Semi Final, London (ENG)
About the team: It has been yet another superb year for England. The team captained by legendary defender Kate Richardson-Walsh were Silver medallists at the Tri-Finance EuroHockey Nations Championships and will be looking to round off the year in style by claiming Gold at the Argentina Hockey World League Final in Tucuman. The squad contains a number of Great Britain team which grabbed Olympic Bronze at the London 2012 Games, including brilliant midfielder Helen Richardson-Walsh and livewire striker Alex Danson.
Current FIH World Ranking: 6
How they qualified: 1st place – Rabobank Hockey World League Semi Final, Rotterdam (NED)
About the team: Following the retirement of legendary striker Natascha Keller at the end of the London 2012 Olympics, many wondered how the team would cope without their Olympic Gold medal-winning superstar. However, if the last 12 months are anything to go by, the post-Keller era is shaping up to be something very special indeed. The team coached by Jamilon Mülders have been in remarkable form in 2013, winning the HWL Semi Final event in Rotterdam ahead of hosts and world number 1 the Netherlands before claiming the TriFinance EuroHockey Nations Championship in the summer. They truly are one of the most in form teams in world hockey, and will be determined to take the glory in Tucuman.
Current FIH World Ranking: 8
How they qualified: 3rd place - Rabobank Hockey World League Semi Final, Rotterdam (NED)
About the team: The ever-competitive Korea come into the Hockey World League Finals in Tucuman on the back of a year full of solid performances. A third place finish in the HWL Semi Final in Rotterdam was followed by a Silver medal in the Asian Cup continental championship. Korea are known for being one of the most well-organised international sides in the game, and on their day they are capable of giving any team a run for their money. Striker Park Mi Hyun is their star player, but fellow forward Kim Jong Eun and penalty corner star Cheon Seul Ki are more than capable of making valuable contributions to the Korean cause.