Monday, December 11, 2023

Hockey World Cup: England and Australia rely on form ahead of 2023 edition

England and Australia remain in buoyant mood ahead of their World Cup campaigns, the two men’s rivals set to meet in the semi-finals should they top their respective groups and progress to the last four in India.

England, who are placed in Pool D along with India, Spain and Wales, will begin their final preparations in Bhubaneswar, before moving to Rourkela, where they open their campaign against Wales on Friday.

“I think we are a contender,” said England captain David Ames.

“There is a lot of belief in our camp as everyone is confident about their abilities and we have also trained well in the last few months. We went on tours and played some top teams like the Netherlands and Argentina which has made us ready.”

England coach Paul Revington is hoping his side can improve on their World Cup record which has seen them finish fourth in the last three editions.

He said: “The team is in the right frame of mind ahead of the big tournament as everyone is excited to play in India. It’s always a fantastic opportunity to take part in the World Cup.

“The team has been in good form over the last one year and we will look to repeat the same good performance in the tournament.”

Commonwealth champions Australia, the 2018 bronze medallists, are in Pool A along with Argentina, France and South Africa, and will kick start their tournament in Bhubaneswar also on Friday against France, before playing Argentina on Jan 16 at the Kalinga Stadium.

Australia’s captain Eddie Ockenden said: “Our players are really excited to be here and we have big ambitions in the tournament. We want to do well and have confidence that we will be able to win the World Cup. Our team has a lot of experience and it will be really crucial for us.”

Australia, who won back-to-back World Cup titles in 2010 (New Delhi) and 2014 (The Hague, Netherlands), had bagged their first title in 1986 (England) when they defeated England. They will complete their group stage fixtures on January 20th when they play South Africa in Rourkela.

Head coach Colin Batch added: “We have a really good team and our players are prolific goal scorers which is really important as it helps you to win matches. At the same time, our defence is also really good and we often manage to restrict the opposition’s scoring. So, our fundamentals are strong and that makes us a really good side.”

Defence is also on the mind of a Germany team looking to add to their World Cup wins in 2002 and 2006. Germany are in Pool B, along with Japan, Belgium and Korea.

Captain Mats Grambusch said: “After the Olympics, we got a new coach and it was a long preparation of more than eight months. We won 13 out of 18 matches in the last year and will look to replicate the same performance in the World Cup.”

Germany coach Andre Henning talked about the mental state of his players ahead of the tournament.

He said: “Our players did a lot of things while preparing for the tournament and are confident in their abilities. We worked on our defence and got better at it as a group. The players have got better tactically as well.”

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