Men’s Hockey World Cup 2018: Who are favourites for the title?

Bhubaneswar: With the Hockey World Cup just 2 days to go, anticipation among the fans has now reached sky high and sports pundits are all busy in predicting as to who will be the ultimate winner in the hockey extravaganza.

Among the world’s top 16 participating teams, 15 have already arrived in the city for the mega sporting event with Malaysia also scheduled to land today.

The competition will see 16 teams battle out for the biggest title, the World Championship tag. However, a few teams are close favourites for the title some Asian teams see themselves as potential winners taking advantage of their home conditions.

According to experts, the biggest contender for the title is the defending champion and world number 1, Australia. After winning the last two world cups in 2010 and 2014, the Kangaroos are all set to make a hat-trick this time in Bhubaneswar.

Australia had won the title in 1986 too so that makes them more pumped up to equal Pakistan’s record of 4 world cup trophies and hat-trick in titles. They had been runners-up twice while winning bronze medal 4 times. The Champions of World Hockey League 2017 at none other than the Kalinga stadium, Australia will think they can remake history here.

“There are a lot of good teams here and we would like to defend the title and win it here,” Australia coach Colin Batch said.

On the other hand, Rio Olympics champion and world number 2 Argentina is also in the race for the title. The team had to settle for bronze medal in the 2014 Hockey World Cup while being runners-up in the World Hockey League 2017.

Ranked third in the world, Belgium is also one of the favourites for the coveted prize. It was the winner of silver medal in Rio Olympics, and is popularly known to be a tough contender for any contest.

Similarly, European hockey majors Germany, England and The Netherlands are also eyeing their chances in the event.

German team captain Martin Haner said “We always want to win the World Cup title. But there are so many good teams who also want to win the title, so it will be big battle.”

Netherlands captain Billy Baker said “In 2010, we came second in the World Cup. Hopefully, we will get a gold medal this time here.”

On the other hand, the host India and arch-rival Pakistan are all set to give their best performance.

India, which plays in its home ground will no doubt has full house behind its back and with its crowd support it has the potential to emerge as a winner in the contest.

Pakistan, which is the most successful team in World Cup history, will also flex its muscles to make it a memorable trip to the neighbours.