Hockey World Cup 2018: First-timers China have mountain to climb, but can draw inspiration from Japan
Having been placed in a group with Australia, England and Ireland, China have a mountain to climb. Yet, the World No 17 team can draw heart from the recent exploits of Japan, who clinched the Asian Games gold at Jakarta only a couple of months ago.
Considering the fact that China is hosting the next Winter Olympics in 2022 in Beijing, it must come as little surprise that all the buzz around the word hockey in the nation right now is around the variant of the sport played on ice.
Yet, the exploits of the field hockey players from the country will take centre-stage when the FIH Hockey World Cup begins in Bhubaneswar next Wednesday.
After all, this is the first time in the history of the team that it has qualified for the Hockey World Cup. Unfortunately, having been placed in a group which includes the likes of Australia, England and Ireland, they are not expected to go too far. Yet, the team currently ranked 17th in the world can draw heart from the recent exploits of Japan, who are 16th and had a fairytale run to clinch the Asian Games gold medal at Jakarta-Palembang only a couple of months ago.
The team has won a silver medal at the 2006 Doha Asiad besides having two bronzes at the Asia Cup in 1982 and 2009. But the men's team's silver at the Asiad in Qatar was overshadowed by the women's team bringing back gold.
It can be said that the women's field hockey team of China has been more successful than their men's counterpart. At Beijing Olympics exactly a decade ago, the women's team even won a famous silver medal, while the men's team crashed out without even registering a victory.
It's a little-known fact that a variation of the sport — called Beikou — used to be played in the Inner Mongolia region as many as 1,000 years ago.
And while the variation's reach was severely limited to the Inner Mongolia region, it is likely that should the Chinese team make a splash at the World Cup, the sport could find wider acceptability in the world's most populous country.
The Chinese will start their campaign against England on 30 November (Friday) before facing Ireland on 4 December (Tuesday) and Australia on 7 December (Friday).
China squad: Guo Xiaoping, Ao Zhiwei, Guan Quyang, Ao Suozhu, E Wenhui, Ao Yang, Meng Dihao, Su Jun, Meng Nan, Su Wenlin, Su Lixing, Du Chen, Du Talake, Guo Zixiang, E Wenlong, Wang Caiyu, Ao Weibao, Guo Jin
For the rest of the profiles of teams in the Hockey World Cup 2018, click here.
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