Mouth-watering opening Vitality Hockey Women’s World Cup weekend in store
As one World Cup ends, so another begins.
The Vitality Hockey Women’s World Cup starts on 21 July and the event, held at the iconic Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in London, promises to be an extravaganza of great sporting action. The opening weekend is set to be a brilliant spectacle with the world’s top women’s hockey teams in action. It couldn’t be a better way to start the biggest women’s team sports event ever held in the UK.
Session one on Saturday 21 July sees host nation England take on Asian giants India. This match sold out in the 2017 World Cup ballot but we are seeing occasional hand-backs or seats freed up as the stadium build is finished, so the eagle-eyed hockey fan might still be able to get tickets.
This is also an opportunity to see the winners of the Indoor Hockey World Cup, Germany, start their quest to become double World Cup winners in the same year as they take on South Africa.
Session two features USA, who made such an impact at the 2014 World Cup when they defied the FIH Hero World Rankings to finish fourth. They will take on Ireland who, says their coach Graham Shaw, are viewing every game as a cup final.
Australia – who have won the title twice in the past – will then face Japan, a team that is always capable of producing an upset. With London’s huge multi-cultural population, expect a brilliant atmosphere as fans flock to support their home nations. It is the perfect way to spend a Saturday night.
Sunday’s opener will be an intriguing encounter between two distinct styles of play – or will it? Italy are renowned for their energy and attacking flair and, in the past, China have been seen as a strong defensive unit, playing a uniform style. With former German coach Jamilon Mulders now in charge, China may spring some surprises of their own.
The second match is bound to be a humdinger as two-times World Cup champions Argentina begin their campaign with a match against the arriviste team of Spain. Expect flair and flare-ups as the number three side begin their hunt for a third World Cup gold.
It’s a bumper second session on Sunday with the team ranked number one in the FIH Hero World Rankings, the Netherlands, taking on the disciplined and skilful team from Korea. The Netherlands have been unstoppable since the start of 2017 and they will have their eyes firmly on the prize from the first whistle.
New Zealand, the team who has come closest to dethroning the Dutch recently, will then start their campaign against the Red Panthers of Belgium. The Black Sticks are still seeking a major tournament win, after coming so close on so many occasions. For Belgium, this is another step towards a place at the top table of hockey.
With so much fantastic hockey talent on display, World Cup magic just keeps coming.