Is reinvigorated England in the ascendancy?

England defeated Olympic champion Argentina to enter the semifinals of the Hockey World Cup 2018 in Bhubaneswar on Wednesday.

England players take a ‘selfie’ photograph as they celebrate victory over Argentina in the quarterfinals of the FIH Hockey World Cup at Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar on Wednesday.   -  Getty Images

Prior to the Hockey World Cup, England coach Danny Kerry had asked his players to “stop putting people on the pedestals” and go “toe-to-toe with other teams.”

Perhaps England's first victory over Olympic champion Argentina since 2013 (as recorded by the International Hockey Federation) was possible due to the above mentioned factor.

As it Happened

Kerry had promised to “create (sic) uncomfortableness around people in the squad, to push and challenge them hard.”

It looks like he has succeeded in getting the best out of the reinvigorated unit, comprising a bunch of youngsters who had played less than 10 matches while entering the event.

Within a short period, the impact of Kerry, who switched from the women's team, on the England squad was unmistakable. The calm and philosophical look of the coach reflected on the players, except for the time they celebrate their success.

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“Argentina, if you look at their age profile, cap profile, that’s a big scalp. I am really proud of the moment,” said Kerry after the seventh-ranked England upset second-placed Argentina.

It was a kind of grudge match for England, which had lost to the Latin American country in the bronze medal play-off four years ago.

England won its only World Cup medal, a silver, in 1986 – when it hosted the event to commemorate the centenary of the formation of its hockey association.

In the Olympics, Great Britain had claimed the gold medal, its only hockey medal in the multi-sport event in 30 years, in Seoul.

Kerry was happy that his team executed its meticulous plan well and peaked at the right time. What he did not say was how keen his boys were to end England's medal drought in an elite event.

“Yes (we peaked at the right time). We lost to Australia, it was an important loss. At half-time, we played very well and in the second half we played poorly and we learnt from that second half. If I would be honest, if we had not had that second half, then I am not sure whether we would have addressed the grey areas Sometimes, ironically, a loss can really help you,” said Kerry.

The weekend will present a true picture of England's ascendancy.

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