For long, Argentina had been giants in South American hockey, but when it came to the world stage, Los Leones were more often than not, minnows. Argentina have finished on the podium in each edition of the Pan American Cup, Pan American Games and South American Games. Los Leones, however, just couldn't replicate their success on the world stage.
Until 2012, Argentina never finished on the podium at either the Olympics or the World Cup. However, when former player Carlos Retegui took charge of the team for the second time in 2013, Argentina’s fortunes changed. At the 2014 World Cup, Argentina finished third, their best finish at the tournament. Two years later in Rio, they won their first ever gold medal at the Olympics. Their stunning form has seen them rise to No 2 in the world rankings. At the 2018 Hockey World Cup, Argentina will be keen to add the title to their burgeoning trophy cabinet.
However, at the start of 2018 Retegui stepped down from his post and has been replaced by German Orozco. Since his arrival, Orozco hasn’t managed to hit the heights like his predecessor but still has led Argentina to a fourth-placed finish at the 2018 Champions Trophy while winning bronze at the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup. Los Leones will be keen to shrug off their disappointments in 2018 and finish the year on a high with their first World Cup title.
Key to their chances will be the trio of Gonzalo Peillat, Lucas Vila and Maico Casella. Peillat was the top scorer at the 2014 edition and slammed in 11 goals at Rio. Los Leones also have a core of experienced players who have been important in their golden age. Captain Pedro Ibarra, 39-year-old keeper Juan Manuel Vivaldi, midfielders Juan Martín López and Matías Paredes have more than a 1,000 caps between them.
Drawn in Pool A, Argentina have a relatively easier pool. The best-ranked teams in the pool after Argentina are Spain and New Zealand at No 8 and 9 respectively. World No 20 France make up the rest of Pool A, which Argentina are expected to breeze through and secure a spot in the quarter-finals. However, anything less than a podium finish will be a failure for Los Leones.
Squad: Juan Manuel Vivaldi, Tomás Santiago, Gonzalo Peillat, Pedro Ibarra, Juan Ignacio Gilardi, Ignacio Ortiz, Juan Martín López, Matías Rey, Lucas Rossi, Agustín Bugallo, Nicolás Cicileo, Tomás Bettaglio, Matías Paredes, Agustin Mazzilli, Lucas Vila, Maico Casella, Lucas Martínez, Joaquín Menini
Coach: German Orozco
For the rest of the profiles of teams in the Hockey World Cup 2018, click here.
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Updated Date: Nov 23, 2018 20:10:08 IST