The World Cup has now entered in its Semi Final stages and the competition is now coming to an end. England faces Belgium in the 1st Semi Final, meanwhile, Australia takes on the Netherlands later on the 15th of December.
There were 4 Asian teams competing in the 14th edition of the World Cup in Bhubaneswar and while no Asian team managed to make it to the Semi-Final stage, the performance put up by all 4 throughout the tournament was truly heartening. With what the world thought was a wild card, China came to the global stage at the World Cup and made the best in the world scratch their heads. China’s tenacity in Pool B allowed them to secure two vital draws against England and Ireland, which meant they had qualified for the Crossover in their 1st ever outing at the World Cup. This was indeed a proud moment for China and paves a hopeful path for China Hockey in the future to come.
Pakistan and Malaysia were placed in what many claimed to be the Pool of Death. With Pakistan and Malaysia up against Germany and the Netherlands, the games could have not been more intense. Pakistan’s narrow defeat to Germany set a good rhythm to their World Cup but were bettered by the Dutch on the day. Pakistan also drew their 2nd match against Malaysia, when Malaysia star player Faizal Saari scored in the closing stages of the 4th Quarter.
Malaysia, although coming from a good Asian Champions Trophy campaign, didn’t hit the mark at the World Cup as well as they would have liked. Placed alongside Pakistan, all the Pool matches posed a different level of challenge, but the thought process post World Cup would be high. With a young and dynamic squad having faced the best sides in the world, the next step for the squad would be to develop and extend the crucial experience gained during their time in Bhubaneswar.
India, being hosts and the top-ranked Asian sides, had a lot of burden on their shoulders going in the World Cup. A very young squad where the average age was a whopping 23.7 years, India were looking pretty red hot both prior and during the World Cup. Having being declared Joint Champions at the Asian Champions Trophy and been awarded the Bronze medal at the Asian Games, India had a good list of achievements going into Pool C to face South Africa, Belgium and Canada. Having scored 12 goals in the Pool stages, India qualified directly for the Quarter Finals based on a better goal difference. Their Quarter-Final match against the Dutch seemed to be an incredibly close affair as India fought relentlessly but lost by a 1 goal margin coming late in the game.
Although it may not have been a World Cup for Asia this time around, there were many positives to take away from the tournament as China now show what they are made of, Malaysia and Pakistan take away crucial experiences as well as India, all of whom would be looking to gaze ahead into 2019.