In this week’s Coaches Corner we speak to the Head Coach of Argentina, Agustin Corradini, who believes his team has what it takes to win their third World cup gold medal.
A seventh place finish at the Rio 2016 Olympics has galvanised Argentina’s new look squad and they are heading to the Vitality Hockey Women’s World Cup London 2018 with huge ambitions.
Head Coach Agustin Corradini is not joking when he says that his team: “Has enough talent to cause all the other competitors major headaches.”
Argentina has a World Cup history to be proud of. They took silver in 1974 and 1978 before a lean spell in the 1980s. However, the subsequent years have seen Las Leonas finish no lower than fourth (Utrecht 1998); with a silver in 1994; two bronze medals in 2006 and 2014; and a glorious brace of gold medals in 2002 and 2010.
Former Argentina international Corradini is relatively new to the role of Head Coach – he took charge in May 2017 – but he has been a member of the coaching staff under both Carlos Retegui and Gabriel Minadeo. He also led the Argentina Under-21 side to the 2016 Junior World Cup in Santiago and his team selection reflects both the young players he has worked with in the junior set-up and the experienced players he knows he needs to stabilise the talented but mercurial team.
Argentina’s preparations have included intense training camps back home in Buenos Aires and they will consolidate this with a series of test matches against Germany just prior to their arrival in London.
“Of course you never feel as if your team is totally ready for the challenge ahead, there are always things to improve upon. In fact, we can improve some details in just about every area,” says Corradini. “But we are a talented and hard working team and I know the players will contest every match right to the final whistle.”
One thing that Corradini has impressed upon his players is the need for the entire squad to step up and take responsibility. In the past, Las Leonas have enjoyed the presence of some huge personalities on the pitch – Luciana Aymar and Carla Rebecchi are two players who come instantly to mind. With the new squad it is all about the team.
“We have given organisational roles and responsibilities to each player,” says Corradini, “That is the quality that the team has been lacking in recent times.”
The huge popularity of hockey in Argentina means the players will be used to competing in front of noisy, passionate crowds. All the same, this is a World Cup so the players will be certain to feel the pressure. Corradini agrees, but adds: “There is very little you can do to prepare the players for the mental stress of playing in a major tournament. Playing a World Cup is the only way to feel this pressure.”
Argentina, who are currently ranked at number three in the FIH Hero Hockey World Rankings, are competing in Pool C, alongside Germany (WR:6), South Africa (WR:14) and Spain (WR:11). Their opening match is on 22 July against Spain.