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Men's Hockey World Cup 2018: 5 favourites to win the title

FEATURED COLUMNIST
Top 5 / Top 10
2.71K   //    28 Nov 2018, 12:51 IST

Can the Odisha crowd inspire the hosts to win the title?
Can the Odisha crowd inspire the hosts to win the title?

Forty-seven years and thirteen editions of the Men's World Cup Hockey tournament have witnessed five nations emerging triumphant - will there be a new champion at Bhubaneswar?

The Women's World Cup at London did not produce a new champion - favourites, the Netherlands did claim the title but not before several fancied teams fell by the wayside, and a few others rose from relative obscurity to announce their arrival on the big stage.

Several intriguing possibilities lie in store when the action unfolds at Bhubaneswar where strangely enough, three of the five former titleholders find themselves drawn together in the same pool.

Indeed, the prospects in Pool D appear to be poised rather tantalizingly, and four-time titleholders Pakistan will consider themselves fortunate if they are to make it to the knockout stages ahead of three-time champions Holland and two-time winners Germany.

The Men in Green who were one of the most dominant sides in the history of the competition have failed to make the semifinal stages since winning gold in 1994 while neighbours India will aim to make it to the last-four stage after a gap of 43 years since they last stood atop the podium in 1975.

Three-time winners Australia will, no doubt, aim to equal Pakistan's record, but which other teams stand a chance of halting the Kookaburras in their tracks?

It was Carlos Retegui, who spearheaded the Argentine men's team to a bronze in the 2014 World Cup, and gold at Rio 2016.

Chapa also guided the Los Leones to a silver in the Hockey World League Finals at Bhubaneswar last December, but Argentina have fared badly without their master coach, finishing third in the Azlan Shah Cup and fourth in the Champions Trophy and current coach, German Orozco has big shoes to fill. 

So, which are the five sides aside from the struggling Olympic champions who will hope to corner glory at Odisha?

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#5 India

Indian hockey fans will fervently cheer the hosts on, and an encouraging show at the Champions Trophy, at Breda, has raised hopes - but can the fifth-ranked Indians make it all the way to the top?

Sportskeeda checked with Siegfried Aikman, coach of the Japanese side who won gold at Tokyo, as his charges faced the Indians thrice in the space of the last three months, and this is what the FIH master coach had to say.

"India could be that team if they manage to control their nerves and enjoy the support of the home crowd."

Heightened expectations following a stellar show at Breda seemed to boomerang on the Indians following a shock defeat in the semifinals of the Asian Games, and many experts caution that it would be unrealistic to expect too much even though the overall graph points to an upward trend.

Yet, buoyed by the vociferous home crowd and some incredible talent in the ranks, the Indians are perfectly capable of creating history at home.

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