The Junior World Cup has entered the deciding phase and the regular top 3 of the world is once again meeting up with expectations. Germany, Australia and the Netherlands live up to their reputation. Malaysia is the Asian player featuring among the top 4 but what to think of France playing a semi final at the World Cup. Talk about a big surprise!
Our Belgian talents dissapointed in India. They have a team that should have been capable of reaching the top 4 but instead they gave it away in the quarter finals… My respect goes out to the French team for their performance earlier today against Belgium, but I doubt they will be delivering future world class talent to shape our game. Nevertheless their stunt will make sure one of the usual suspects, Germany, Austalia or the Netherlands, will go home with the title I reckon. Malaysia will be the most likely winner of the semi-final against France but neither one is capable of beating the top 3.
At this top 3 level the Germans and the Dutch are technically and tactically the most advanced teams, followed closely by the Aussies who excel physically and in playing with heart as usual. The Dutch have the advantage of playing in the strongest competition in the world, the experience of playing fast-paced games every week again. But these Germans are the masters of the last component that makes the biggest difference: being mentally strong, especially when the going gets tough.
The only real challengers at this point in time for the top 3 are the Belgians. However it was clear from this tournament they still trail somewhat on all levels mentioned above. The Asians have talented players surely, but they lack the infrastructure and the European style competitions to grow into the best player they could be. Spain, England and Argentina dissapointed as well at this World Cup. Maybe just for this generation but it could also be a sign their youth development is not up to par.
Anyway… it looks like either Germany or Holland will go home with the trophy this time and therefore it’s my opnion the top 3 of the senior teams will not change either in the near future with Belgian as the strong outsider on the rise. Germany are the favorites in this Junior World Cup for me because as usual they have shown to be the strongest team mentally as well as being on top in hockeyskills. But sport wouldn’t be sport if sometimes it doesn’t throw you the unexpected curve ball…
Managing moneytime is what will make the difference !