Jan 1, 2014

Guest post: Men’s FIH World League Final Preview

Hockey World League Finals begins Jan 10

After two years of competition, the 2014 Men’s FIH World League boils down to just eight teams this January as New Delhi gets set to host an enthralling final week of hockey.

As hosts, India are expected to generate a strong home backing and are an outside favourite in the online betting community to lift the inaugural title and secure qualification points for the Hockey World Cup and Olympics.

Yet Terry Walsh’s men have their work cut out against Olympic champions, Germany, and world champions,Australia. Central European hockey has seen a huge rise in success recently and India, drawn in Pool A alongside the Germans, must prove their mettle against the best.

Meanwhile, Pan-American champions Argentina lie in Pool B, and with world No. 3 Netherlands also competing alongside England, Belgium and New Zealand the tournament promises to boast an upset or two.

Predicting India’s progression will be even more difficult. The latest sports betting suggests that they will beat England in game one on 10 January but there is trickery in this England side that boasts experienced captain, Barry Middleton, and dangerous forward, Simon Mantell.

The 2013 Asia Cup runners-up should have no real problem with England, however, and given a good win to start their campaign will certainly give world No. 7 New Zealand a run for their money a day later.

Their clash with the Black Sticks won’t be easy, nor will the final Pool game against Germany, and India are therefore likely to place third in their group and meet either Australia or Netherlands in the quarters.

Sadly, aquarter-finalberth is all we can realistically expect from Sardara Singh and his men, as the potentialfor an all-European final looks a near certainty as the tournament draws to its climax.

Nevertheless, the importance of playing this reputable tournament in New Delhi is only going to further the popularity of hockey in India and prepare the team for their World Cup 2014 exploits in Holland this June.

(This post was submitted by Alex Jackson for our blog. If you with to post a guest blog here, please mail your article on field hockey to contact@hockeyindia.co.in or jimmy@hockeyindia.co.in)

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