As the clock draws closer to the FIH Odisha Hockey Bhubaneswar-Rourkela Men’s World Cup 2023, with less than 100 days to go, Hockey India is launching Favorite World Cup Memory which will bring hockey fans unknown facts, fun facts and special moments for hockey stars. from all over the world who have reached the top of this prestigious event in previous years.
Our series resumes with the inimitable Mark Knowles, member of the Australian team which won the World Cup in 2010 in New Delhi at the Dhyan Chand National Stadium, then Captain of the Kookaburras who retained the title in 2014 at the Kyocera Stadion from The Hague, Netherlands. And before those two memorable tournaments, Knowles began his World Cup journey with a silver medal in Germany in 2006.
One of modern field hockey’s most decorated players, Mark Knowles, who was part of a top-ranked Australian team for more than 10 years during his career, says his first big heartbreak and memory of World Cup dates back to 2006 in Mönchengladbach. .
In 2010, the Aussies, Knowles noted, felt quietly confident about changing the color of the medal.
“We felt like we could do something special at that World Cup in March 2010 and what a lot of people forget is that we started with the loss to Great Britain. When people could potentially write you off after the first game of the tournament, that was something that our team, I guess for me, being one of the leaders of that group was very proud of,” Knowles said.
“For me, it was one of those times when I wondered if we will have a chance to right the wrongs of four years before. And then, in the final at an amazing stadium in Delhi with a absolutely packed crowd, we managed to overtake the Germans, it was the first time in a grand final, so it was a really big moment and as I said, we didn’t win the World Cup since 1986 as the Australian men’s team, so an extremely, extremely special moment for me.
In 2014 in The Hague, in what was a mixed World Cup, Knowles explained that the Australian team had their blinders on and were on a mission. He further added that the Kookaburras were at the height of their powers at the time.
“The way we behaved as a team, the relentless pressure we put on the opponents. It’s something that maybe I hadn’t been part of throughout my career and my 15 years playing for Australia.
With three Olympic medals in addition to those from the World Cup, Knowles spoke about what it takes to be among the most dangerous units in the sport. The Australian, who has played more than 300 games at the highest level, also bagged five Champions Trophy medals (4 gold and 1 silver) and 4 other gold medals at the Commonwealth Games, the last podium having arrived in his own backyard during the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games.
“At the top level you can’t afford to go up and down, and the best teams, they don’t go against their opponents and I think that’s what Belgium and Australia are doing at the moment.They play the exact same level of international standard hockey that they play against, and I think that’s what will make the World Cup winner in 2023. In India, I think that’s going to be the team that plays the most regularly throughout the tournament. ,” he said.
‘India tough to beat at home’: Knowles
While Mark Knowles, retired for several years, will no longer be on the FIH Odisha Hockey Bhubaneswar-Rourkela Men’s World Cup 2023 score sheet in January, the former Australian skipper insisted he would be watching closely on the procedures. Australia, Belgium, Netherlands, India, Argentina, Germany, New Zealand, England, France, Korea, Malaysia, Spain, South Africa, Japan, Chile, Wales are the 16 teams that will take part in the tournament. Knowles believes there is no clear favorite for the coveted trophy this time around.
“Realistically, I believe any of the top seven or eight teams in the world could win the World Cup. I think the top, the top two in my eyes are still Belgium and Australia. But they are followed very, very closely by India’s men’s hockey team, who, at home, of course, are extremely difficult to beat in front of passionate fans.
“The Dutch, the Germans, Argentina, Spain, England, definitely up there. I think international hockey is as tight as it’s ever been, so I’m expecting a very, very tight tournament.
“And I expect absolutely amazing fans. We love noise, it’s something hockey never tires of. And you know that’s one of the reasons why I think players will enjoy going to India again and playing in front of big crowds,” he signed.