Hockey World Cup 2018: Germany fit and raring to go, says Florian Fuchs

Germany's experienced forward Florian Fuchs says the team is ready to challenge for the title at the Hockey World Cup 2018 in Bhubaneswar, Odisha.

The German team poses for a picture upon their arrival in Bhubaneswar for the 2018 Hockey World Cup.   -  Special Arrangement

Last year, around this time, the Germans were trying to work out the best possible way to field a team in Bhubaneswar, several of their players laid low by illness. Florian Fuchs was one of the 11 who were luckily fit for competition, and the striker even managed to find humour in his team’s dire straits.

On Sunday, when the Germans landed in Bhubaneswar, for another shot at World Cup glory, Fuchs had his humour intact. In an interaction with Sportstar, the experienced forward laughed over memories of the Hockey World League Finals 2017. He admitted the team had taken more than a few precautions this time. The star forward said Germany, twice World Cup winners, is ready and raring to challenge for the title.

Excerpts:

Coming back after a year, how much has changed, both for you as a player and Germany?

Yeah, the last time we were here, we played with 11 players and our goalkeeper as an outfielder, so that was quite a big memory we took home! But this year has been quite long; there have been a lot of training days and we developed quite well as a team. Then we had a long break because of club hockey and didn’t see each other for a couple of months. Now, we have had a more intense period of training again. I think we have a really strong team.

How differently is the team prepared this time?

In terms of diseases, we have taken some precautions. We are always cautious actually in terms of sanitising and also what we eat. This time we have prepared in advance and taken some medicines and some stuff which decrease the risk of diseases. We also have someone here look at the food and how it’s prepared. We want to avoid every (risk)possibility to prevent it (a repeat of the 2017 illness) from happening again.

You do have happy memories also from the venue, winning gold in the 2014 Champions Trophy. What expectations do you have this time around from yourself?

Personally, I haven’t thought about it. It doesn’t really matter. We have come here to achieve something big and have the capability and the team for that, but we also know that a lot of different factors come into play during the tournament — whether you have a flow or not, all those things. It will be quite difficult to predict.

You were a youngster four years ago under Moritz Fuerste. Now, as a senior, how do you see the responsibility?

It definitely is a big responsibility, but we have a leadership group. It is not just one or two guys at the top, but taking decisions together. I really like to take the responsibility and show that on the pitch. Now, I am more in a position to ask for the ball in moments when it isn’t falling fast, convince players and inspire the team to follow in a way.

The last two times India hosted the World Cup, Germany finished runner-up. Do you see the team being third-time lucky?

Yes, I think we can be World champions for sure. But there are a lot of really good teams here – Australia, Argentina, Netherlands. The last World Cup was really disappointing for us (Germany placed 6th), but many of us have in mind that we may not experience this again.