In the next two days, the 16 teams who have gathered in Odisha for the FIH Hockey Men’s World Cup 2023 will be the focus of attention. Hosts India is in Pool D with England, Spain, and Wales among the other teams. The teams are split up into four pools. Here FIH Hockey World Cup 2023 Pool A Preview
The benefit of qualifying straight for the quarterfinals is only available to pool winners; teams who finish second and third must compete in an additional cross-over round.
Check out the Pool A teams here (Argentina, Australia, France, South Africa)
FIH Hockey World Cup 2023 Pool A Preview
With 14 victories at the continental level, the Olympic winners from Rio 2016 are the strongest team in Pan American hockey. Los Leones can compete with any team in the globe thanks to their swashbuckling flair and exceptional technical abilities. Former Argentina goalkeeper Mariano Ronconi is the team’s coach, and he will do all in his power to guide his brilliant squad to a maiden World Cup victory.
Despite being well into their 30s, Agustin Mazzilli, Lucas Vila, and team captain Matias Rey continue to be exceptional athletes. Rey was awarded Player of the Tournament after his side stormed to win in the 2022 Men’s Pan American Cup in Santiago, Chile, securing their entry to this tournament. In November, the squad beat Belgium, the current Olympic and World champions, by a remarkable score of 2-1, serving as a timely reminder that they can compete with the best. Can Argentina win a World Cup on Asian soil to follow in the footsteps of their men’s football team?
Given that they have regularly been in the top four of the FIH World Rankings for the past 30 years, the Kookaburras are the best men’s hockey team in history. The championships of the Olympic, World, FIH Hockey Pro League, and Oceania Cups are only a few of the awards they have won.
In 2022, the squad led by former striker Colin Batch won their seventh Commonwealth Games championship, defeating a highly talented India team 7-0 in Birmingham. Nathan Ephraums and Jacob Anderson, the latter a travelling reserve for this tournament, both scored twice, with Blake Govers, Tom Wickham, and Flynn Ogilvie also finding the goal in a typically devastating performance from the outstanding Aussies. A shootout setback to Belgium in the gold medal match at the postponed Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 may act as incentive for the great Australians as they seek a record-equaling fourth global crown.
France landed in Bhubaneswar in 2018 for their first FIH Men’s World Cup appearance in 28 years, with their previous outing occurring in 1990 in Lahore, Pakistan, when they finished eighth. Many anticipated them to be on the first aircraft out of India after being drawn in the same pool as Rio 2016 Olympic winners Argentina, Spain, and New Zealand. However, despite a close setback to the Black Sticks, Les Bleus earned a string of successes that would propel them all the way to the World Cup quarterfinals.
A draw with higher-ranked Spain was followed by a shock 5-3 win over Argentina, securing their position in the competition’s knockout rounds, when they defeated China to set up a last-eight encounter with Australia. Despite the fact that the giant Kookaburras ended France’s great run, they departed the tournament with their heads held high, having won respect from everyone who witnessed them in action.
Odisha is all set for a grand inaugural ceremony of FIH Hockey Men's World Cup 2023 in Cuttack. pic.twitter.com/wKV1RNSX5g— ANI (@ANI) January 9, 2023
Since then, France has grown from strength to strength as they prepare for the Olympic Games in Paris in 2024, when they will serve as hosts. They played in the FIH Hockey Pro League in 2021-22, winning over India, South Africa, and Argentina before earning their ticket to this event by finishing second at the European Qualification event in Cardiff, which was won by hosts Wales. France may have finished sixth in the last FIH Hockey Men’s Nations Cup South Africa 2022 tournament, but with penalty corner ace Victor Charlet and seasoned talent Gaspard Baumgarten, they will be a formidable side in Odisha.
Following their outstanding championship triumph in the last FIH Hockey Men’s Nations Cup, which earned them a spot in the top FIH Hockey Pro League, South Africa has every reason to hope that they can do great things here in Odisha. The tournament hosts finished first on home soil in Potchefstroom, defeating Pakistan, France, and Korea before securing a stunning 4-3 victory against Ireland in the competition final, whom they had previously defeated. Dayaan Cassiem, the title match’s inspirational 23-year-old captain, scored twice, with younger sibling Mustaphaa netting a penalty stroke earned by his older brother.
Although the immensely skilled Cassiem brothers are the poster boys for this hugely exciting new generation, the squad is far from relying on them. Tevin Kok, a striker, is proven to be a consistent goal scorer, while 33-year-old defender Jethro Eustice provides a solid, seasoned mind to a club packed with youth and skill.
Also Read: FIH Hockey World Cup 2023 Schedule, Tickets, Venue, Dates, Fixtures