The Olympic Hockey matches begin today, with Australia facing South Africa and South Korea taking on New Zealand in their respective Pool ‘A’ and ‘B’ encounters. While Australia, The Netherlands and Germany remain usual favourites, the rest of the teams cannot be discounted either, with Spain, Great Britain and Argentina likely to pose stiff competition to them. Pool ‘A’ has Australia, Great Britain, Pakistan, Argentina, Spain and South Africa, whereas Pool ‘B’ has Germany, Holland, India, New Zealand, South Korea and Belgium.
In Pool ‘A’, the Aussies remain the hot favourites to top the group and advance, whereas Pool ‘B’ is a bit more competitive, especially as defending champions Germany and heavyweights Holland look set to dominate the group. Though Australia, who last won an Olympic medal in the Athens Games, will not have much of a problem against South Africa, the other teams in the Pool would surely be no pushovers, especially Great Britain and Spain. Britain, playing on home territory, would surely bank on home support and hope to at least advance from the group, as finishing among the medals tally, though difficult, is certainly not impossible.
Spain and Argentina would surely be the teams providing the Aussies competition, with Spain having a high chance to finish second behind the Aussies, whereas Argentina and Pakistan are the two ‘unpredictables’ in the group. South Africa look set to be the ‘whipping boys’, as they will undoubtedly find it tough to match the other teams, with a bottom placed finish looking likely. Pool ‘B’ looks set to be ‘owned’ by Germany and the Netherlands, with a match up between the two European giants, likely to decide the group topper and runner-up.
Though the ‘pacy’ South Koreans will prove to be stiff opposition, India, New Zealand and Belgium do not seem likely to cause any problems to the two favourites. Belgium, look the weakest opposition in the Group, with New Zealand and India, no walkovers by any means, seemingly tricky opponents. So overall, Australia and Spain look set to qualify from Pool ‘A’ , whereas Germany and The Netherlands are hot favourites to advance from Pool ‘B’. So, barring the possibility of a few upsets, favourites like Australia, Germany and The Netherlands look like having a smooth run till the semifinal matches.