Hockey World Cup 2018: Old is gold for Olympic champion Argentina

The core of the Argentina side, which is in Bhubaneswar for the Hockey World Cup, has remained the same for quite some years now. The average age of the side is above 30 years and is the highest in the tournament.

Argentina's men hockey side has remained the same for quite some years now.   -  GETTY IMAGES

Consisting of nine players born in the 1970s and 1980s, Olympic champion Argentina is perhaps the most industrious bunch in the current Hockey World Cup.

The core of the Argentina side has remained the same for quite some years now. The average age of the side is around 30 years and is the highest in the tournament.

The Argentina goalkeeper, 39-year-old Juan Vivaldi, is one of two players (the other being Malaysian custodian Kumar Subramaniam) born in 1979 and is the oldest in the World Cup, while seven others of the South American side are above 30.

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Understandably, the older lot needs to put in more effort to catch up with the younger ones in the tournament.

Argentina's Lucas Vila during the team's match against Spain in Bhubaneswar.   -  Getty Images

 

“You need to double the work, sometimes triple the work. The young players are really fast. You need to keep the level up – eating good, training hard and playing a lot of hockey. You can see a lot of fit players at 35, 36 or 40 years also,” said Agustin Mazzilli, a key member of Argentina.

According to coach German Orozco, who played with several players of the present team, it is easier to manage the experienced members who know what to do to remain fit.

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Mazzilli looks at the wisdom associated with one's age. “We have to change the word from old to experience. We are an experienced team instead of an old team. Some of us have played together for 15 years and some 10. That means we know each other a lot and know what to expect.”

The 29-year-old Mazzilli said even though football remained the first love of every Argentinian, the following of National men's hockey team increased after the Rio Olympics, where the Los Leones claimed its maiden gold medal.

“We are football lovers. It means we will always talk about football. We know hockey is getting bigger and bigger. We need to help the public know hockey and organise some tournaments in Argentina. People are watching this (World Cup on television) and this crowd will also make the sport bigger (back home),” said Mazzilli.