It will be a hockey feast from November 28! Bhubaneswar will play host to 16 teams from across the world, including India, as they battle it out in the 14th edition of the FIH Men’s Hockey World Cup. There will be excellent hockey on display as the best in the business will sweat or rather ‘stick’ it out. Hockey fans will be treated to some fantastic goals, amazing drag-flicks and super saves. Who are the players that can shine at this World Cup? Who will be the nest superstars of world hockey? We look at six players who can deliver outstanding performances in Bhubaneswar.
The Los Leones will be looking to convert a high number of penalty corners, courtesy Gonzalo Peillat. Gonzalo is a powerful drag-flicker, arguably one of the best in the world. The ‘Goal Machine’ was in prime form in the 2018 Champions Trophy held in the Netherlands earlier this year. He scored six goals to emerge as the top goal-scorer there. If Argentina generates a high number of penalty corners in Bhubaneswar, we may well witness a master class in drag-flicking
The veteran 34-year-old will be playing in his fourth World Cup. Barry Middleton seems to be like old wine; getting better with time and age! A tireless workhorse, Barry is known for shepherding his team’s attack, especially in tense situations. His strength lies in his ability to score goals from close range. However, he can also be trusted to create opportunities for others through his long scoops and rifled through-balls. England will be looking towards his experience and expertise to strike a rich haul in Bhubaneswar
Swift, unflinching and ruthlessly efficient is how the hockey universe knows him. With superb ball retention and controlling skills, Tobias Hauke can be more than a handful on his day. An experienced camper, Tobias is a versatile player who can slot in as a forward, a midfielder or even as a defender. However, he plays best as a midfielder where he creates openings for the strikers. Watch out for his fantastic runs across the turf! You’ll marvel at his speed and unmatched control while on the move
Kothajit Singh Khadangbam is rock-solid in defence and comes with tons of experience. His effective tackles and safe clearances make him a must-have in the defensive ranks. Calm and composed under pressure, he has been India’s saviour at crucial junctures in the recent past. Kothajit is also adept at fortifying the defence by marking the opponent’s big-name strikers. Add his surprise counter-attacking runs along the flanks and you get a complete asset package. He also provides the strikers the required ammo with his long balls through the air
Watch out for this young bloke. He could set the World Cup on fire! 20-year-old Jake Harvie has impressed one and all since making his debut at the 2018 Commonwealth Games held at the Gold Coast, Australia. His exploits in the 2018 Champions Trophy fetched him the award of ‘Best Rising Player’ in the tournament. His ball control and passing skills have made him a vital cog in the Kookaburras’ wheel in a very short span of time. He will have to play a significant role if the Aussies are to defend their title
With over 200 caps, 26-year-old Manpreet Singh is one of the most experienced players on the Indian side. Manpreet has been the go-to player for India when the chips are down. His speed on the turf coupled with his presence of mind makes him an irrepressible force. India will look towards him to catch the opposition unawares with his rapid breaks in open play. As the skipper of the team, the defeat to Malaysia in the semi-finals of the Asian Games in Jakarta earlier this year would still be haunting him. He will be aiming to inspire his side to make amends in Bhubaneswar