The 2018 edition of the Hockey World Cup promises to be one of the most open World Cups with as many as five teams staking their claim for the trophy
While the European teams are expected to dominate the World Cup, our money is on defending champions Australia who despite losing some of their key players due to retirement, continue to go on strong.
Let us look at why we expect Australia to win the World Cup
HistoryImage: The Hindu
Australia is the most successful team of the World Cup having won 9 medals which include three World Cup Gold medal wins. Australia is the only team to have made it to the semi-finals in all editions of the World Cup since 1978.
Since 2002, Australia is the only team to play in all four finals, winning two of them in 2010 and 2014.
Australia’s form in tournaments played in 2018 has been near perfect. Apart from the final’s loss against Argentina in Darwin’s hockey tournament, Australia has won Gold in Commonwealth Games and Champions Trophy. Recently concluded Australian Hockey League also gave good match practice to Australian players with Dylan Wotherspoon scoring a hat-trick in the finals for his team Queensland Blades with Daniel Beale scoring two goals. Striker Blake Govers also scored a goal in the finals but ended up on the losing side.Image: AFP
Blake Govers was a top goal scorer of AHL scoring 11 goals, and his performance will be a considerable boost to the Australian team in defending their World Cup crown.
As mentioned earlier, Australia has lost a couple of good players like Mark Knowles and Kieran Govers to retirement, but despite that, the team is rich in experience and skill sets. Co-captain Eddie Ockenden has played more than 300 games for Australia, and his experience will be advantageous. Aran Zalewski is the other captain of the side.Mark Knowles
The team also includes experienced players like Jeremy Hayward, Jake Whetton and Matthew Swann.
Style of Play
Australia is well known in the hockey circles for their ruthless attacking and physical play along with conditioning that allows them to play with full throttle for entire 60 minutes. These qualities make Australia a superior side when compared to other international teams.
Right from the word go, you can see Australia on attack and trying to choke the opposition to make mistakes, and once Australia gains momentum, it is challenging to stop the team.
Australia’s aura of invincibility is on the wane from the last couple of years with other teams taking them to the wire, but the fact remains that Australia still is the team to beat in the World Cup.