Hockey Champions Trophy 2018: Know your team - Argentina
They weren't exactly the best of the lot in field hockey. Though their soccer team was and continues to be a formidable force, the men's field hockey team of Argentina was never a serious threat to any team, until the 2005 FIH Junior Hockey World Cup came up.
Having finished as runners-up to India in the previous edition, the Argentinian team surprised everybody on its way to the ultimate title. Since then, this team has never looked back, and to everybody's shock, became the first team from either of the two American continents to win an Olympic gold medal in field hockey, when they pummeled Belgium by 4-2 to win the gold at Rio Olympics 2016.
As they enter the final edition of the Champions Trophy 2018, Argentina is another contender who can surprise many at the Champions Trophy. Only last year, they surprised everyone as they stormed into the finals of the last edition of the FIH Hockey World League Finals. Though they lost to Australia, they finished as the runners-up overall.
The journey to Olympic gold
Before 2014, Argentina's male hockey team was not a known name in the hockey circle. Usually finishing at the bottom of the pool table, Argentina had a forgettable outing at London Olympics 2012.
However, the Rabobank Hockey World Cup 2014 was the watershed moment in the history of the Argentine hockey. Surprising one and all, Argentina stormed into the semifinals, losing ultimately to Australia by 1-5. Yet, they shocked England by 2-0 to win the bronze medal, and then there was no looking back. One of the main forces behind this dramatic turnaround, drag-flicker Gonzalo Peillat, was to soon script something unbelievably remarkable, 2 years later.
Rio Olympics, 2016: Argentina had managed to crawl into the quarterfinals after a not so great outing in the pool stage. However, the quarterfinals changed it all. Argentina, who were not even considered as a potential team for the semifinals, first defeated Spain by 2-1, then pummeled Germany 5-2 to everyone's surprise, and became the first American team from either of the continents [North or South America] to enter the finals of Olympic hockey [Men's category].
The finals against Belgium proved why Gonzalo Peillat is considered the best in his profession. Scoring 3 of the 5 goals himself in the semifinals, and contributing one in the four goals of Argentina against Belgium's two, Gonzalo gifted Argentina their first gold medal ever in the history of Olympic field hockey.
Chances at Champions Trophy: Can Argentina save the best for the last?
At this juncture, one would be curious to know whether Argentina stands a chance or not at the FIH Champions Trophy 2018. Going by its current track record, the Argentine team surely does.
Though it would be a challenge to overcome the might of Australia and teams like Netherlands, India etc., nothing is impossible for Team Argentina if they make their mind up. Besides, with Gonzalo Peillat in team, it would be interesting to see at how Argentina fares out.
It's quite ironic, that while the women's hockey team from Argentina is the most successful team ever at the Champions Trophy, the men's team has its best performance only in the 2008 edition, where they managed to win a bronze medal.
As the final edition of the Champions Trophy gets underway on 23rd of June at Breda, Netherlands, one would love to see if Team Argentina manage to save the best for the last.
How do you think will Argentina fare in the Champions Trophy 2018? Tell us your thoughts in the comments below!