Former champion Argentina perhaps presents the most cohesive unit in the junior World Cup hockey tournament, starting at the National Stadium here from Friday.
Argentina had lost to India in the final in 2001 before winning the title by beating Australia after four years.
This time the team, which finished third in the Sultan of Johor Cup, is eyeing a top-four finish.
“Our players have been training together for the last four years. We are a strong team having good balance. The players know each other very well,” said Argentine coach Carlos Geneyro after the side’s practice match against New Zealand on Wednesday.
Argentina is placed in Pool B along with Australia, Spain and France.
“We know there are very strong teams in this competition. So, we will go match by match. But we hope to be in the semifinals,” said Geneyro, a two-time Olympian.
Argentine captain Gonzalo Peillat, with 42 caps including some in the London Olympics, is considered as a solid defender and a skilful drag-flicker.
He expressed confidence in his side.
“We have good control. That is a positive thing about us,” said Peillat.
New Zealand, a semifinalist of the last edition, has had a few days' preparation. The side, which is part of Pool D, has three members from the senior side and its head coach Grant Edwards has a modest target.
“It was a real challenge to get a practice game (back home). We have only been together for 10 days. We want to get into the quarterfinals,” said Edwards.