Bhubaneswar, 10 December 2014: After the stunning league round of the Hero Men’s Champions Trophy 2014, all teams are geared-up for the first knock-out round of the prestigious tournament and from the quarterfinals, the competition will see more intense battles among the world best hockey teams. On 11 December 2014, the quarterfinal match between 13-time FIH Champions Trophy champion Australia and Argentina, the qualifying team from 2012 FIH Champions Challenge I, will be the most-sought match at Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar as both the teams have surprised the world with their results in the pool matches.
The defending champion Australia stunned the hockey fraternity with their disappointing defeat against England by 1-3 in the opening match and gave an indication that Hero Men’s Champions Trophy 2014 will be full of surprises. FIH Ranked number 1 Australia came back with a strong attacking game against Belgium in the next Pool A match and scored four goals, but their defence-line showed a lacklustre performance and conceded four goals. However, the Kookaburras have gained motivation from the 4-4 draw match and in their last league tie, they outplayed Pakistan by 3-0 and finished at 3rd position in the Group A points-table with meagre four points.
On the other hand, Argentina shocked everyone in the crowd when the beat the host India 4-2 and outplayed nine-time FIH Champions Trophy champion Germany 3-0 in their Pool B league matches. The Argentineans, the only team who qualified from the 2012 FIH Champions Challenge I, played without any ranking baggage and displayed their true passion for the sport. Argentina started their campaign with disheartening 0-3 defeat against eight-time FIH Champions Trophy champion The Netherlands. But, from that match, they have improved their game and started implementing some out-of-the-box strategies on the field. With the two wins, the South American team finished the league round at respectable 2nd position in Pool A with six points.
When Australia and Argentina will face-off against each-other in the quarterfinal match tomorrow, the Aussie will have an advantage of previous results against Argentina as they won three matches in four ties in the FIH Champions Trophy. In this year, Australia outplayed Argentina twice by 5-1 and 6-1 in the Rabobank Hockey World Cup and the Hero Hockey World League Final Round respectively. However, with the young talented players like Joaquin Menini and Gonzalo Peillat, Argentina team is a highly-energetic single unit and have the ability to upset any higher-ranked team in the tournament. Their only threats will be Australia’s world-class drag-flicker Chris Ciriello, along with forward player Jeremy Hayward and striker Jacob Whetton, who can turn around the match at any moment and steer their team to win another FIH Champions Trophy title.
Whoever wins between the defending champions Australia and giant-killers Argentina tomorrow, it will be the crowd who will witness a great match on the blue astro-turf of the Kalinga Stadium and the match will bring out the best team of the tournament.
Speaking on the sidelines of the match tomorrow, Australia Head Coach Graham Reid said, “We played Argentina before, in the Hockey World Cup and other tournaments, and they have brought few talented players in the tournament, which made their team very competitive. We are expecting a very difficult clash in the quarterfinal match tomorrow. Till now, our major concern was to give room to our oppositions to score against us, but now we have worked on the defensive responsibilities and strengthen the defence line. After yesterday’s win against Pakistan, we have positive feeling in our team and we are very much confident for tomorrow’s match.”
Talking about the preparations for tomorrow, Australian Captain Eddie Ockenden said, “For the tomorrow’s match, we know very well what we have to do and how to tackle Argentina. We have been improving ourselves from the last three games and we are getting better and better on each day. We are working on breaching into the defensive line in this tournament and we did it successfully against Pakistan and score goals. Till now, every game we played was very difficult but we played with confidence. We know that the upcoming matches will be difficult too, so we have to play with confidence. Our team are very confident for tomorrow’s quarterfinal clash against Argentina.”
Speaking about the clash against Australia, Argentina Head Coach Carlos Retegui said, “Tomorrow’s clash will be very tough as we are playing against the defending champion Australia. They have very good set of players and we have to keep our eyes on them. Our players are in very good form and in high-spirit after beating Germany. But tomorrow will be a difficult match with a difficult team. We have made strategies for them and now our job is to implement those plans on the field. We are looking forward to tomorrow’s quarterfinal match.”
Gearing up for the game tomorrow, Argentina Captain Matias Paredes said, “Our preparation for the quarterfinal is going very good. We are working on a tactical game against Australia, as you know that they are the best team in the world. Tomorrow’s match will be difficult match for us. We will try to control the ball among us and use most of the turf in the match. We are also looking for those areas where Australia is lacking.”