2018 Women’s Hockey World Cup Preview: Can England win on home soil?
Coral preview the tournament
Stratford plays host to its second World Cup inside a week on Saturday when the 2018 Women’s Hockey World Cup gets underway at the Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre.
A total of 16 teams will contest the tournament which is being held in England for the very first time.
The Coral News Team has taken time out to have a closer look at the two-week spectacular…
The Netherlands are the defending champions after defeating Australia on home soil in 2014 to lift the trophy for a record seventh time since the event was first held in 1974.
Times are a-changing, though. And England’s women look set to put up more of a fight than they did in mainland Europe four years ago. A good number of the squad who experienced that crushing 11th place finish on the continent also featured for Britain in their remarkable 2016 Olympic gold medal success in Rio de Janeiro.
English and British hockey has come a long way in a short space of time. And hopes are high that the Lionesses can lift the trophy for the first time in the East End. Captain fantastic Kate Richardson-Walsh may be retired. But there’s still a solid crop of faces – young and old – on hand to compete against the world’s best.
Eight of the successful 2016 Olympic side have been named in the squad for the World Cup. They include experienced forward Alex Danson and super stopper Maddie Hinch.
Danny Kerry’s side will be more streetwise for the inclusion of those stars. But they’ll still face a difficult assignment in Pool B alongside the United States, India and Ireland.
This tournament will hold no fear for side ranked second in the world, even if it’s the Netherlands that remain the team to beat.
Alyson Annan’s girls have only ever failed to reach the final twice since the tournament’s inception in 1974. The experienced Ellen Hoog and young star Xan de Waard will lead the line for them this time around.
World player of the year Delfina Merino will spearhead the Argentine charge, while India will do battle with 16 World Cup debutants in their side. Australia have flattered to deceive on the international stage since their late 1990s heyday. But they do tend to save their best until this tournament.
The Hockeyroos will hope the lack of experience in their midfield does not dissuade from the quality and longevity of their defensive and forward names.
New Zealand, Germany and the United States also hold realistic chances of making significant inroads in London.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing