HWL semi finals begins in Johannesburg today with the women’s event. In the first match, its Japan versus Ireland, followed by Germany and Poland. India opens their campaign against the hosts and would be looking to pocket full points.
The other teams in the women’s section are England and Argentina with the top 5 teams automatically qualifying for next year’s World Cup. Team India would be targeting a 3rd/4th place finish in their group which would mean a quarter final encounter with England or Germany.
In all likelihood, it will be either India or Japan which will be fighting it out for the fifth position and a world cup berth. However, the hosts should not be counted out as they would be having huge crowd support.
On current form, England, Argentina , Germany and USA should qualify for the semi finals and book their ticket for London.
The men’s event begins tomorrow with top teams like Australia, 2016 Olympic Silver and Bronze Medalists Belgium and Germany respectively. The Black Sticks are more than capable of defeating these teams thanks to their penalty corner specialists. Ireland qualified for the Olympics last year have a decent and industrious team. Spain,currently ranked below New Zealand and Ireland, are a much better team than their ranking suggests and would be looking to qualify for the World Cup with a top 5 finish.
My pick would be Australia to go all the way and win the title followed by Belgium.