Preview – FIH Women’s Wanglibao Hockey Champions Trophy Changzhou Wujin 2018
With just a day until the action gets underway, the 23rd edition of the Wanglibao Hockey Champions Trophy Changzhou Wujin 2018 sees six of the world’s top teams come together in a top-class, round-robin event.
Taking to the turf in China are the top four ranked teams in the FIH Hero World Rankings, the Netherlands (WR:1), Great Britain (WR:2), Australia (WR:3) and Argentina (WR:4). They are joined by two giants of Asian hockey – China (WR:11) and Japan (WR:14).
Of those six teams, four have won this event in the past. China has won the title once, the Netherlands and Australia have both taken gold on six occasions. However, the leading nation in Champions Trophy history is Las Leonas, the reigning champions and seven times winners.
There is an extra sense of history for this edition of the Women’s Hockey Champions Trophy as it may well be the last time the event takes place. For the Netherlands, a win would mean they would be the first and last name on the trophy as they were winners at the inaugural event in 1987. Since then, the statistics tell their own story. The Netherlands have played more Champions Trophy matches than any other team – 123; they have won more matches than any other team – 75; and they have scored more goals than any other team –256 in total.
Argentina has a great tradition in the Champions Trophy and, in the words of their captain Delfina Merino, it is an event the team absolutely love. To finish as the most successful team in Champions Trophy history would be the best way for Las Leonas to end their competitive year. Argentina first won the trophy in 2001 and, proving their domination in the past decade, they also won in 2008, 2009, 2010, 2012, 2014 and 2016. Luciana Aymar remains the player who has appeared in most matches, with 88 Champions Trophy matches to her name.
Australia would see a win in Changzhou as confirmation that they are back in the mix as one of the top teams in the world. Despite dominating the Oceania Cup and the Commonwealth Games in recent years, there have been no gold medals for the Hockeyroos at world level events since 2003. Australia’s last Champions Trophy gold medal came in that year.
For Great Britain, a first-ever Champions Trophy gold medal would be the perfect way to resume competition after their Olympic triumph at the 2016 Olympic Games. Since then, they have competed as England, Scotland and Wales, so to resume winning ways as Great Britain would be the perfect way to prepare for Tokyo 2020. The squad continues to be led by David Ralph who has been stand-in head coach since September.
The Tokyo Games will be the driving force behind Japan’s challenge. They have been developing their squad in order to give a good showing in front of a home crowd in 2020. A win at the Asian Games was a good indication that Anthony Farry has the team moving in the right direction. Japan could be the dark horse of this event. Japan have appeared at four previous Champions Trophy events, in 2007,2008, 2012 and 2014. Their highest previous finish was fifth, in 2007 and again in 2012.
The final team in our super six is the host nation, China. 2018 has not been a good year for the China hockey team. They were knocked out of the Women’s World Cup in the first round of competition and then only managed a bronze medal at the Asian Games when they would have been aiming for gold. To win at home, in front of their own supporters would be a huge fillip for both the team and their new Head Coach, Huang Yongsheng. China has competed in 13 previous editions – by far their best performance was in Macau in 2002 when they won gold. The home advantage is a big factor in China’s prospects at this event.
One person for whom Champions Trophy memories will come flooding back is Netherlands Head Coach Alyson Annan. With the Hockeyroos, Annan scored 17 goals over six editions, winning gold with her team in 1993, 1995, 1997 – when she was player of the tournament – and 1999.
For further information on the Wanglibao Hockey Champions Trophy Changzhou Wujin 2018, click here.
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About the event
Event Name: Women’s Wanglibao Hockey Champions Trophy Changzhou Wujin 2018
When: 17-25 November 2018.
Where: Wujin Hockey Stadium, Fengyuan Rd, Wujin Quarter, Changzhou Shi, Jiangsu Sheng, China
Teams: Netherlands, Great Britain, Australia, Argentina, China, Japan.
Event website: click here.
Photograph: Alyson Annan coaching the Dutch team, copyright Koen Suyk