Argentina have always produced international teams with plenty of talent, but over the past three years the men’s side has surged from being outside of the top ten in the FIH Hero World Rankings to become the Olympic champions and the number one ranked team in the game.
Head Coach and former Argentina international Carlos “Chapa” Retegui – the man who, remarkably, guided both the men and the women’s national sides to bronze medals at the Rabobank Hockey World Cup before leading the men to Olympic glory at Rio 2016 – is the man behind the revolution, helping “Los Leones” (The Lions) to realise their massive potential. Key players include veteran team captain Matias Paredes and creative genius Lucas Vila, although it is powerfully built penalty corner expert Gonzalo Peillat who often grabs the headlines thanks to his incredible prowess from set-pieces.
Twenty-year-old attacker Maico Casella is another player worth keeping an eye on, with his pace, trickery and on-field intelligence making him one of the hottest young talents in the game. The team followed their second-place finish at the Hero Hockey World League Semi-Final in London by claiming their second consecutive Pan American Cup title, defeating Canada 2-0 in the final. Thirty-five-year-old Paredes was named best player at the competition and also finished joint top scorer with seven goals alongside team-mate Peillat.
Los Leones will compete in Pool A alongside Belgium, Netherlands and Spain. Pool B comprises of defending champions Australia, England, Germany and host nation India. Argentina first match of the competition is a mouth-watering reply of the 2016 Olympic final, taking on Belgium’s Red Lions on Saturday December 2nd at 1200 India Standard Time (UTC +5.30).
Juan Manuel Vivaldi
Juan Ignacio Gilardi
Juan Martín López
Who to watch: Lucas Vila. Long considered one of the most naturally gifted attackers in world hockey, Vila has a reputation for scoring spectacular goals and always provides assists for his team-mates. The 31-year-old has been central to Argentina’s rapid rise up the FIH Hero World Rankings table and played an instrumental role in their Olympic success last year.
December 2nd : Argentina vs Belgium
December 3rd : Argentina vs Netherlands
December 5th : Argentina vs Spain
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