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Hockey: Great eight compete for first Hero World League Final in Delhi

Eight of the world’s top teams are competing in the inaugural Hero Hockey World League Final in India. Photos: FIH.

Eight of the world’s top teams are competing in the inaugural Hero Hockey World League Final in India. Photos: FIH.

January 10, 2013: The Hero Hockey World League Final in New Delhi, which runs from January 10-18, features eight of the world’s top men’s national teams and is the culmination of a journey that began in August 2012 when the first rounds of the inaugural competition were played.


Below, the FIH provides a guide to the eight teams, who will first do battle in Pool A (Germany, England, New Zealand and India) and Pool B (Australia, The Netherlands, Belgium and Argentina). The 12 pool matches will be played on Friday, Saturday and Monday, followed by the four quarter-finals on Wednesday.





Current FIH World Ranking: 1

How they qualified: 1st place – World League Semi Final, Johor Bahru, Malaysia
Quote: Captain Oliver Korn: “We will pose a major threat. We have an experienced team and I know that we are able to defeat any other team here. This is the kick-off into the year of the World Cup. We want to improve our game during the tournament.”

About the team: Last year was yet another great season for Germany. Building on an incredible 2012 that saw the side become Olympic champions for the second time in succession, the team coached by Markus Weise powered to glory at the Tri-Finance EuroHockey Nations continental championships before winning the World League Semi Final in Johor Bahru.


The Germany line-up in New Delhi is missing striker Christopher Zeller (exams), ace defender Max Müller (injury) and 2012 FIH Player of the Year Moritz Fürste (representing Germany in the EuroHockey Indoor Championships in Vienna, Austria). However, the inclusion of world-class talent such as Martin Häner, Tobias Hauke, Benjamin Wess and Florian Fuchs ensures the Olympic champions will be among the front-runners.



Current FIH World Ranking: 4
How they qualified: 3rd place – World League Semi Final, Johor Bahru, Malaysia
Quote: Captain Barry Middleton: “We will try to play the best we can. The Indian crowd is amazing.”

About the team: England come into the Hero World League Final boosted by the return of two hugely important players. Classy midfielder Ashley Jackson and powerful attacker Mark Gleghorne both re-join the squad following injuries that kept them out of England’s fourth-place finish at the TriFinance EuroHockey Nations event in Boom, Belgium. The team finished third at the Hockey World League Semi Final in Johor Bahru and produced enough evidence to ensure they will be feared in New Delhi.


England coach Bobby Crutchley has named a strong squad, with experienced trio Simon Mantell, Adam Dixon and Nick Catlin being named alongside brilliant captain Barry Middleton, considered among the very best attackers in the game. However, the team will be without defender and penalty corner specialist Richard Smith, who looks likely to miss much of the 2014 calendar due to knee surgery.



Current FIH World Ranking: 7
How they qualified: 4th place – Rabobank World League Semi Final, Rotterdam, Netherlands
Quote: Captain Dean Couzins: “Germany have a strong side and the games against England and India will be difficult as well. But we are really looking forward to playing India in front of their home crowd. That’s going to be a highlight.”

About the team: New Zealand, coached by ex-Belgium boss and former Australia international player Colin Batch, qualified through a fourth-place finish at the Rabobank Hockey World League Semi Final in Rotterdam. A highlight of that event was an impressive 3-3 draw with host nation the Netherlands on the first weekend, although the side fell to a 4-1 defeat to the same opponents in the third-place playoff.


The Black Sticks squad has been strengthened by the return of two experienced campaigners, with ace striker Simon Child and midfielder Steve Edwards included following their return to international hockey at the recent Oceania Cup, having taken a break from the team after London 2012. Defender Kane Russell has been rewarded for his form at the recent Hero Junior World Cup in New Delhi, with his seven tournament goals earning him a place in the Black Sticks squad.



Current FIH World Ranking: 10
How they qualified: Tournament hosts
Captain Sardar Singh: “It will be a great experience, especially for the young players in our team. This is a very important tournament.”

About the team: India may have only managed a sixth-place finish at the Rabobank World League Semi Final event in Rotterdam, but a strong showing at the Asia Cup provided plenty of evidence that they are stepping up their game. A youthful India team battled to an impressive second-place finish behind Korea, winning four of their five matches and giving a spirited showing against a Korea team packed with experience. The performances will give the team great confidence ahead of the challenge of facing the world’s best.


The squad selected continues to look to the future, with only two players – goalkeeper Thirumala Potunuri (35 years) and brilliant captain Sardar Singh (27) –older than 25. Having only taken charge in October, head coach Terry Walsh, the former Australia international striker, will be looking forward to seeing how his team performs in this showpiece tournament.


A statue of Major Dhyan Chand outside the National Stadium in New Delhi.

A statue of Major Dhyan Chand outside the National Stadium in New Delhi.



Current FIH World Ranking:
How they qualified: 2nd place – Rabobank World League Semi Final, Rotterdam, Netherlands
Quote: Captain Mark Knowles: “We are here to win. We are definitely not here to come fifth or sixth. We are coming to a new tournament with a new trophy played at a great stadium.”

About the team: Ric Charlesworth’s Australia are always among the front-runners at every tournament they enter and will again be among the tournament favourites with an abundance of talent at their disposal. The reigning World Cup winners are boosted by the return to fitness of two key players, with experienced defender Mark Knowles (ankle) and dangerous striker Kieran Govers (hamstring) both back following lengthy injury layoffs.


A powerful squad also contains the considerable talents of Russell Ford, Jason Wilson, Glenn Turner, Simon Orchard, Liam de Young and the exceptional Eddie Ockenden, a player widely considered to be among the very best attacking midfielders in world hockey. The Kookaburras come into the event as Oceania champions, having defeated host nation New Zealand in the tournament final.


Current FIH World Ranking:
How they qualified: 3rd place – Rabobank World League Semi Final, Rotterdam, Netherlands
Quote: Captain Robert van der Horst: “Our expectations are very high. We are ready for the tournament and it is time for us to win a final.”

About the team: By their own very high standards, the Netherlands had a disappointing 2013 following third-place finishes at the Tri-Finance EuroHockey Nations continental championship in Belgium and the Rabobank Hockey World League Semi Final on home soil. However, the team produced occasional flashes of brilliance in those events, giving everyone a reminder of the qualities that earned them an Olympic silver medal at London 2012.


The Netherlands squad contains an array of world-class talent including midfield dynamo Robert van der Horst, drag-flicking defender Mink van der Weerden, playmaker Billy Bakker and quicksilver goalscorer Jeroen Hertzberger. Head coach Paul van Ass stated that team preparations had been going very well and that his charges were greatly looking forward to the challenges that lie ahead in New Delhi. If the Dutch are on their game, they will take some stopping.


Current FIH World Ranking:
How they qualified:
1st place – Rabobank World League Semi Final, Rotterdam, Netherlands
Quote: Striker John-John Dohmen: “We achieved good results in our last tournaments and we would like to continue with this. All of us are very proud to play for our country and of course we would like to win this tournament.”

About the team: Belgium have made incredible strides forward over the past few years, a trend that very much continued throughout 2013. Head coach Marc Lammers, the legendary Dutchman who guided the Netherlands women to Olympic Gold at Beijing 2008, has moulded Belgium into one of the world’s most feared attacking sides, a fact proven by their two victories over reigning World Cup winners Australia on their way to winning the World League Semi Final in Rotterdam.


The Belgium squad is hugely experienced, with eight players having surpassed the 100 international appearances mark – John-John Dohmen (251 caps), Thomas Briels (195), Cedric Charlier (169), Felix Denayer (163), Alex de Saedeleer (161), Tom Boon (142), Simon Gougnard (138) and Jeffrey Thys (101). Furthermore, there are no players over the age of 26 so this talented pool are likely to remain together for years to come. Although Belgium were narrowly beaten by Olympic champions Germany in the final of the Tri-Finance EuroHockey Nations in the summer, they are one of the favourites in New Delhi.


Current FIH World Ranking:
How they qualified:
2nd place – World League Semi Final, Johor Bahru, Malaysia
Coach Carlos Retegui. “This is a very important tournament for us because we will be playing against the best teams in the world. Playing these teams will help us grow and become better; essential if we are to rise up the international rankings.”

About the team: Argentina has always produced international teams with plenty of talent, but over the past year the current men’s team has developed into a side that can challenge the best in the world. Coach Carlos Retegui – the man who guided the Argentina women to World Cup glory in 2010 – is helping Los Leones (The Lions) to realise their massive potential. Argentina, who come into this event as Pan American champions, were hugely impressive in the Semi Final in Johor Bahru, reaching the final before eventually losing to Germany.


Fourteen of the 18 players from Johor Bahru have been selected for the World League Final, including free-scoring attackers Matias Paredes and Facundo Callioni as well as rising star Gonzalo Peillat, the drag-flicking defender who netted seven times in Malaysia. The South Americans may be the lowest-ranked team in the competition, but their superb recent form and fearless attacking style mean they’re a team to be respected.


Source: FIH

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