A feast of good matches awaits hockey lovers in Odisha as the countdown to the much-awaited Odisha Hockey World League Finals is finally over with the coveted event starting on December 1st 2017 at the Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar.
While the participating teams have descended in the city, hockey lovers from across Bhubaneswar as well as other parts of India will be present in large numbers to cheer for their favourite hockey stars.
This event will not only bring Hockey lovers from across Bhubaneswar to watch best teams compete for top honours but those travelling for the event to Bhubaneswar will get to witness the warm hospitality of the people of Odisha as well as get a chance to soak up in the culture.
3 Days before the tournament begins, Game Analyst Leo Devadoss gives a lowdown on the chances each team has of winning and what each team brings to the event. Let’s take a look.
Netherlands: Classy Netherlands remain a dangerous proposition and are serious contenders for the Gold medal, having won the Hockey World League 2017 Semi-Finals in London. However, they have come to the event with 12 youngsters of which 11 of them have an experience of less than 50 matches. Robbert Kemperman, Billy Bakker, Valentin Verga, Sander Baart and Van Der Weerden will have a job on their hands guiding the younger players who no doubt show promise.
Belgium have roped in four players from the Junior World Cup squad last year. Belgium has also brought in their wonderkid Arthur Van Doren. who helped his team win this Hockey World League Semi-Finals 2017 in Johannesburg through some commanding performances in Belgium’s defence. A rock at the back, he provided the foundations for Belgium to build their attacks.
Los Leones have arrived at the event sitting at the top of the FIH Hero World Rankings, and will be looking to add the World League title to the Olympic gold medal that they won at Rio 2016. Ten of the 18 players named will be playing in their third World League Final event, with Juan Manuel Vivaldi, Juan Ignacio Gilardi, Juan Martin Lopez, Gonzalo Peillat, Ignacio Ortiz, Lucas Rossi, Matias Rey , Matías Paredes, Lucas Vila and Agustín Mazzilli having all featured in both the 2013 and 2015 editions.
Australia will be without the services of the Craig brothers as both Tom and Ben were recently ruled out with injuries. They have brought in Lachlan and Harvie Jake as replacements thus having twelve players with less than 100 caps. Continued to be led by the experienced Mark Knowles, the Kookaburras will most definitely look enter the final. The rest depends on how they play on the day of the summit clash.
Germany too have arrived at the event with 12 players with less than 100 caps. They have a very young group – 9 of whom have played less than 50 internationals. Martin Zwicker, Martin Häner, Florian Fuchs and Benedikt Furk will be the players to guide the fortunes of the team.
To their credit, Great Britain (players from England. Scotland and Wales combined ) won the 2017 Azlan Shah tournament and have beaten Germany recently. However, they have lost the services of two important players in Ian Sloane and Micheal Hoare due to injuries. They have brought in 10 players with less than 100 caps. Barry Middleton, Adam Dixon, Mark Gleghorne, Henry Weir and Martin Harry will be responsible to hold the fortunes of the team
Hosts India have only 6 youngsters with less than 40 matches. Led by Manpreet Singh there are 8 players with more than 100 caps and if we add Mandeep Singh, Harmanpreet Singh and Lalit Upadhyay as experienced players then the team seems to have the right balance. The home crowd support and advantage will be a great factor to India lifting its game and doing well. How well the youngsters handle, it is to be seen. A litmus test for the new coach indeed.
Spain have brought in some very inexperienced youngsters, 11 in all. But if they sniff a chance, they will home in and create an upset. That’s what every team has to guard against when facing Spain. Quico Cortes,the Spanish goalkeeper is the one to watch out for, as he is one of the main reasons Spain made it to the Hockey World League Finals 2017.
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