The tournament is finally taking place from April 1 in South Africa after postponement due to COVID-19.

The 2022 FIH Women’s Junior Hockey World Cup is scheduled to take place from 1April 2022 onwards in South Africa. It will involve an U-21 lineup from some of the best hockey national teams in the women’s category. There will be 15 teams that will fight for the top honour. Though supposed to be initially held in December, the tournament had to be postponed due to the COVID-19 situation in South Africa.

Argentina are the defending champions and will hope to retain their title. However, the competition will be intense. The Junior World Cup also acts as a gateway to observing the upcoming talent in world hockey. As for the players, it is a massive opportunity to stamp their authority and announce their arrival on the international stage, with an eye on securing a spot in the senior national team of their respective countries.

The tournament in South Africa will have several gifted youngsters taking part and the fans are eager to see their favourite team win the competition. On that note, here are the five contenders that could win the 2022 Women’s Junior Hockey World Cup:

5. England

Maddie Axford will be the player to watch out for in the England squad (Courtesy: Cambridge Independent)

England are one of the teams that will be outside favourites to win the title. The Europeans are a strong force in hockey and their young players have a lot of energy and technical qualities. The outfit are in Pool B alongside South Africa and Ireland.

Ukraine were supposed to be the fourth team, but they pulled out due to the war with Russia. Maddie Axford will be the player to watch out for in the English lineup, considering her excellent domestic goalscoring form. Making it into the knockout rounds should be a breeze for the team.

4. India

Indian hockey has been on the rise in the last few years, particularly the women’s team. There is an increased focus on developing young players, who are hungry to feature for the senior team that finished a best-ever fourth at the Tokyo Olympics. Lalremsiami, who is also a regular in the senior setup, will play a key tole in the team. India have never won the competition and with a strong lineup, will be looking to clinch their first Women’s Junior Hockey World Cup title.

India have been grouped with teams like Germany, Wales and Malaysia in Group D. They will look to secure one of the top two spots for qualification to the knockout rounds. The outfit have many figures that play with the senior team and that experience will be crucial in this tournament.

3. Germany

Lisa Nolte will captain the German side at the Women’s Junior Hockey World Cup (Courtesy: FOM Hochschule)

Germany are a strong candidate to win the Women’s Junior Hockey World Cup . Traditionally, the Europeans have always been a strong team, with several players that are technically very sound. Their youngsters are particularly impressive and will look to guide the team out of a tricky Pool D.

Their opponents in the pool stage will be India, Wales and Malaysia. Lisa Nolte, who is a regular feature in the senior team, will captain the side. She was part of the German lineup that reached the quarter-finals of the previous edition.

2. Argentina

Argentina will be one of the major contenders during the Women’s Junior Hockey World Cup. The outfit are the reigning champions and will be favourites to retain their title. In the previous edition, the South Americans beat the Netherlands in an epic final.

South Korea, Uruguay and Austria are the other teams with Argentina in Pool C. The road to the knockouts should be easy for the team .

1. Netherlands

The Netherlands are the biggest contenders to lift the Women’s Junior Hockey World Cup title. The team reached the final of the last edition and were the winners of the edition prior to that. All of their teams, whether it’s at the junior level or senior level, are a force to reckon with.

Rosa Fernig will play a key role when the team steps out against the likes of Canada, the USA and Zimbabwe in Pool A. The three-time Junior World Cup winners (the most) will aim to add a fourth jewel in the crown.

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