The 12 best men’s and women’s teams from around the world are converging in Pretoria, South Africa as we countdown to the final few days till the start of the FIH Indoor Hockey World Cup South Africa 2023! Each team comes with the aim of becoming indoor hockey world champions, but only one team can earn the highest honour at the end of the World Cup. The first obstacle for all 12 teams in both men’s and women’s category, come in the form of their pool opponents. The top-4 teams in each pool will qualify for the quarterfinals with the teams finishing in the bottom two spots in their pool getting eliminated from the quest for the title. In today’s preview, meet the teams in Pool A of the women’s competition, and find out the unique playing styles they will bring to the World Cup.
Current FIH Indoor World Ranking: 9
Indoor World Cup history: 2003 – 9th, 2007 – 6th, 2011 – 8th, 2015 – 8th, 2018 – 6th.
About the Team: Having competed in every Indoor World Cup played to date, Australia are seasoned performers and always difficult to beat. Their sixth-place finish at the 2018 event in Berlin, Germany was their joint highest placement, matching their previous best at the Vienna 2007 competition. Emma McLeish is the team’s most experienced athlete, with the 34-year old having represented her country at the Poznan 2011, Leipzig 2015 and Berlin 2018 competitions. Goalkeeper Elizabeth Duguid and Madeleine Murphy were also involved at Berlin 2018 and will be determined to make that world level knowhow count in Pretoria. The event will be an extra special one for the family of Caitlin and Erin Burns, sisters who have both gained selection for this event.
Current FIH Indoor World Ranking: 8th
Indoor World Cup history: 2003 – 7th, 2007 – 7th, 2011 – 7th, 2015 – 4th.
About the Team: After missing the Berlin 2018 edition, Austria return to the women’s Indoor World Cup stage and will be setting their sights high. Following seventh place finishes at the Leipzig 2003 and Vienna 2007 competitions, Austria came agonisingly close to a podium finish at Leipzig 2015, holding Czech Republic to a draw before suffering a heart-breaking defeat in the shoot-out. The team selected for Pretoria 2023 contains two players who competed in that painful defeat, with Marianne Pultar and Marta Laginja both aiming to get amongst the medals this time around. In December, Austria finished fourth in the recent EuroHockey Indoor Championship 2022 in Hamburg, Germany, with 20-year-old Johanna Czech top scoring for her team with four goals.
Current FIH Indoor World Ranking: 2nd
Indoor World Cup history: 2003 – 2nd, 2007 – 1st, 2011 – 2nd, 2015 – 1st, 2018 – 2nd.
About the Team: With two gold and three silver medals from the five Indoor World Cups played to date, the Netherlands have a sensational record in this competition and are sure to be one of the favourites for glory here in Pretoria. The Oranje were in imperious form throughout the Berlin 2018 competition, winning seven games in succession before hosts Germany edged them 2-1 in the gold medal match. Four players from the team that competed in Berlin will be in action at the 2023 event, including co-captains Lieke van Wijk and Donja Zwinkels, outstanding goalkeeper Alexandra Heerbart and Noor de Baat all gaining selection. Van Wijk and Zwinkels scored six goals apiece to help The Netherlands win silver at December’s EuroHockey Indoor Championships 2022 in Hamburg, Germany. Is a third Indoor World Cup title on the cards?
Current FIH Indoor World Ranking: N/A
Indoor World Cup history: Debutants
About the Team: New Zealand women will be making their Indoor World Cup debut at the event in Pretoria and will be keen to make a good first impression. Following tireless efforts in New Zealand to re-establish the international indoor teams, it will be fascinating to see how they perform on the greatest indoor stage of all. The team is coached by Gaye Tarrant, who captained Australia to their impressive sixth place finish at the 2007 Indoor World Cup in Vienna, Austria. The team is captained by Pippa Norman, whose younger sister, Beth, has also been selected. Former outdoor star Kirsten Pearce – who played 121 times for the Black Sticks, scoring 32 goals - is arguably the biggest name on their roster and could be a player to watch.
Current FIH Indoor World Ranking: 14
Indoor World Cup history: 2003 – 10th, 2007 – 12th, 2015 – 9th.
About the Team: Returning to the Indoor World Cup stage after missing the Berlin 2018 edition, South Africa will be relishing the chance to take on the very best the world has to offer in front of a partisan home crowd in Pretoria. It is the fourth time that South Africa have competed in the Indoor World Cup, and know that they have a fantastic opportunity to surpass their previous best finish of ninth, which came at Leipzig 2015. The team were runners up in the 2021 Indoor Africa Cup, with Namibia defeating the host nation 2-0 in the competition final in Durban. The silver medal came with a silver lining, with Tegan Fourie – who will compete here in Pretoria – finishing as the competition top scorer with 20 goals to her name. Edith Molikoe is another prolific scorer for South Africa, a team that will be determined to thrill their home fans at this very special event.
Current FIH Indoor World Ranking: 12th
Indoor World Cup history: 2018 – 10th
About the Team: A tenth-place finish at Berlin 2018 was a very respectable Indoor World Cup debut for USA, who will feel that they can achieve even bigger things this time around. They are the reigning Pan American champions, winning a second successive title with a 3-0 triumph over Canada at the 2021 competition on home soil in Spring City, Pennsylvania. The team is captained by Anarose McDonough, who also featured in the Berlin 2018 competition. Goalkeeper Sam Carlino is the only player from the Pan American title winning squad to be selected for this event. The team is coached by Jun Kentwell, who represented China as a player before becoming one of the world’s best umpires, officiating at the 2002 FIH Women’s World Cup in Perth, Australia. Fascinatingly, Jun’s husband Richard – who umpired at the Los Angeles 1984 and Seoul 1988 Olympic Games competitions – is the team manager, while their sons, JaJa and Stuart, are both in Pretoria representing the USA men’s team.
The sixth edition of the FIH Indoor Hockey World Cup will start on 5 February, in Pretoria. To see the complete match schedule, please click here.