China’s men’s hockey team is making its debut at the World Cup here and its best result in the sport till date is a silver medal finish at the 2006 Doha Asian Games.
What has caught the attention is that all the 18 players representing China in the ongoing World Cup hails from the Inner Mongolia province.
Hockey is not that popular in China. It is mostly common among the Daur people, who have been playing a traditional sport called ‘Beikou’, a game similar to field hockey, for about 1,000 years.
“Yes, all players from the team are from Inner Mongolia. They all are from just one club and one province,” China’s South Korean coach Sang Ryul Kim
Kim, who guided his own country South Korea to a silver medal in the 2000 Sydney Olympics and mentored China to beat India and Pakistan before claiming the Doha Asiad silver, has got a wealth of experience as a coach.
China will make its World Cup debut against England in a Pool B match on Friday and the coach said his players have the capability to cause an upset or two in the tournament if they turn out on the turf without any fear.
“They have the fitness. They have the mental strength. The only problem with our players is that they have very less experience of playing against strong teams. That’s the only weakness,” Kim said.
“If they (Chinese players) are worried and doubtful on the pitch, they can’t do anything. If they are confident, they can do something,” he added.