FIH Hockey Men’s Junior World Cup Malaysia 2023: Pool A Preview

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As part of our build-up to the FIH Hockey Men’s Junior World Cup Malaysia 2023, we bring you the first of four Pool previews which examine the qualification routes, past form and crucial players from the teams that will compete at the showpiece event in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Argentina, Australia, Chile and Malaysia all feature in Pool A, with a top two finish being the only way to secure a place in the competition quarter-finals and thus maintain hopes of Junior World Cup glory.

 

Argentina

 

FIH Junior World Ranking: 1

How they qualified: 1st Place – FIH Hockey Junior World Cup Bhubaneswar 2021

Junior World Cup history: 2021 – 1st, 2016 – 5th, 2013 – 11th, 2009 – 6th, 2005 – 1st, 2001 – 2nd, 1997 – 6th, 1993 – 6th, 1989 – 5th, 1985 – 7th, 1979 – 6th

About the team: Argentina arrived at the FIH Hockey Junior World Cup Bhubaneswar 2021 as continental runners up, having crashed to a surprise defeat at the hands of Chile while searching for a 12th straight title at the 2021 competition in Santiago. The team overcame that disappointment in sensational style, defeating Egypt (14-0), Pakistan (4-3), Netherlands (2-1), France (0-0, 1-3 SO) before battling past Germany – who had beaten them 3-2 in the pool phase – with a superb 4-2 win in the gold medal match. No team could stop them reclaiming their continental title at the Junior Pan American Championship 2023 in Barbados, with captain Inaki Minadeo scoring six goals to help Argentina to comfortable wins over Brazil (11-0), Chile (7-0), USA (7-0) and Canada (6-1). Bautista Capurro netted four times in the gold medal game to mark himself as a player to watch alongside Joaquin Toscani, who was named player of the tournament.

Australia

 

FIH Junior World Ranking: 9
How they qualified:
 1st Place – Junior Oceania Cup 2022
Junior World Cup history: 2016 – 4th, 2013 – 5th, 2009 – 3rd, 2005 – 2nd, 2001 – 6th, 1997 – 1st, 1993 – 3rd, 1989 – 2nd, 1985 – 4th, 1982 – 2nd 

About the team: With the continued fall-out of covid-19 forcing the cancellation of the 2021 Junior Oceania Cup, Australia were unable to qualify for the 2021 Junior World Cup in Bhubaneswar. However, they will be keen to remind the world of their qualities at the 2023 competition in Kuala Lumpur. The Burras arrive in Malaysia as the champions of Oceania, having defeated New Zealand over three matches in Canberra in 2022. Penalty corner expert Cambell Geddes scored five times in that event, including a hat-trick in a title clinching 5-1 victory in the third match of the series. The team recently finished second in the 2023 Sultan of Johor Cup in Malaysia, defeating Great Britain, South Africa and Pakistan before losing a shoot-out against Germany in the gold medal match. Cooper Burns top scored for the Burras in Johor with four goals in five matches. Famed Kookaburras attacker Jay Stacy is the head coach of the team, with Athens 2004 Olympic gold medallists Mark Knowles and Matthew Wells being named as assistant coaches.

 

Chile

 

FIH Junior World Ranking: 20
How they qualified:
 3rd Place – Junior Pan American Championship 2023
Junior World Cup history: 2021 – 14th, 2009 – 17th, 2005 – 15th, 2001 – 15th, 1985 – 14th, 1979 – 12th

About the team: Despite being the lowest ranked team in the competition, Chile will certainly not be underestimated in Kuala Lumpur. At the 2021 Men’s Junior Pan American Championship, played on home turf in Santiago, they created history by becoming junior continental champions for the very first time, defeating an Argentina team that would win the Junior World Cup in Bhubaneswar just a few months later. The team fell to a semi-final shoot-out defeat to Canada at the Junior Pan American Championship 2023 in Barbados earlier this year, but bounced back to take the bronze medal with a comfortable 4-1 win over USA, with Sebastian Loehnert Baeza (2), Joaquin Acevedo and Alexei de Witt on target. The team is captained by Sebastián Wolansky, who won silver with Chile’s men at the Pan American Games 2023 in Santiago earlier this year.

Malaysia

 

FIH Junior World Ranking: 8
How they qualified:
 Host nation
Junior World Cup history: 2021 – 8th, 2016 – 11th, 2013 – 4th, 2009 – 12th, 2005 – 10th, 2001 – 12th, 1993 – 11th, 1989 – 6th, 1985 – 10th, 1982 – 4th, 1979 – 4th

About the team: Hosting the competition for a fourth time after staging the Kuala Lumpur 1982,  Ipoh 1989 and Johor Bahru 2009 (co-hosted with Singapore), Malaysia will be keen to take full advantage of the familiar surroundings provided by the Bukit Jalil National Hockey Stadium. The Junior Speedy Tigers have come agonisingly close to medalling at three previous editions, finishing fourth in 1979, 1982 and 2013. They also finished fourth at the Men’s Junior Asia Cup 2023 in Salalah, Oman earlier this year, reaching the semi-finals thanks to wins over Uzbekistan, Bangladesh, Korea and Oman before Pakistan and Korea edged them in the respective semi-final and bronze medal matches. Shahmie Irfan Suhaimi scored six times for Malaysia in that competition, with Perabu Tangaraja netting five. While a seventh place finish at the recent Sultan of Johor Cup was disappointing, the team coached by former Malaysia international Amin Ramin has the talent to make a big impression on this Junior World Cup.

 

The FIH Hockey Men’s Junior World Cup Malaysia 2023 begins on 5 December with 12 teams in action on opening day! Pool B action between France and Egypt will get the tournament underway at 09:00 local time on the opening day. Germany vs South Africa, Spain vs Canada, Argentina vs Australia and India vs Korea will follow the opening match. Hosts Malaysia will take on Chile in the final encounter of the opening day, with the hopes of making a perfect start in front of their passionate home fans. To see the full match schedule, click here.

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