Having had the honor to participate for the first time ever at the World Cup, China decided to step it up at the International stage. Having been placed in Pool B of the World Cup alongside Australia, England and Ireland, China grasped the challenge with both hands. Australia is ranked number 1 in the world, while England is ranked number 7 and Ireland is number 10 in the world. China, although ranked lowest in the Pool, made rankings a factor that did not affect their performance.
In the first Pool match against England, where the pundits fancied the English to clinch 3 points, China stepped up as #1 Xiaoping Guo put up an excellent attacking display carving through the English defense to give China the lead in the 5th minute, that took much of the England camp with surprise; China could have not been more delighted. China, throughout the match, displayed a strong defense but repeated attacks from England lead them to concede 2 goals by the 48th minute. China, fighting to pull back into the game, started to crawl back. Team China’s efforts came to good effect as a crucial Penalty Corner was obtained in the dying moments of the 4th Quarter. And then stepped up China’s star Drag-Flicker Talake Du who scored a superb goal after converting the Penalty Corner. China obtained their 1st ever point at the World Cup.
Their second match was against the #10 ranked team, Ireland. Ireland having come from a narrow defeat against #1 ranked Australia looked for a redemption match, only for China to stand in their way. The game remained quiet for the most bits as both sides displayed some top quality defenses, which maintained the score at nil till the 42nd minute. After which, China opened via a Penalty Corner and took the lead. China’s goal was quickly neutralized by the Irish and the scoreline remained the same till the hooter of the last quarter was blown. The game was drawn, but another crucial point was obtained by China.
Their last match was a crucial learning experience against the #1 side in the world, Australia. Australia displayed the quality in both attack and defense that would serve as a key learning chance for the young Chinese squad. China lost the match but won a lot of key insights regarding what it takes to play the game at the highest level. Having had their fate hang in the balance on the England-Ireland fixture, China waited anxiously for the match. Fortunes, combined with their persistent hard work, opened up the door for China that would insist teams across the globe to take notice.
China, in their 1st ever outing at the World Cup, had qualified for the Crossovers. But it is not over yet, China is set to face France and would be looking forward to getting access to the Quarter-Finals of the Odisha Hockey Men’s World Cup 2018; The journey continues.