A Dream Team full of talent and skill
By Graciela H. Ortiz
The 10th Champions Trophy has just begun, and www.FIHockey.org’s visitors have made their choice for the Dream Team.
Argentina's Sergio Vigil was picked to coach the Dream Team, and here are the results for the Dream Team, based on Sergio's choice for positions of the starting line up: 3 - 4 - 3
It may come as a surprise perhaps that a substantial part of this team is made up of Argentine players, but this was the voters' preference and choice. Vigil chose a 3-3-4 scheme for this Graciela Ortiz's Dream Team because, in his own words, this is the system that offers the best possibilities in the attack line, since it guarantees width, depth, the coverage of important areas in the field and, at the same time, balance.
Luciana Aymar (centre)
The Argentine coach is known for his in-depth analysis of the players, his meticulous study of the play, and for paying great attention to detail and leaving nothing out of his scrutiny. As a coach, he permanently tries to instruct his players to improve their technique and physical shape, with the support of the PT coach and the assistant coach as the players must be seen as a physical, mental and technical unit.
Vigil likes his teams to base their playing on pass and reception, seeking the player who's best positioned and trying to attain individual balance. He strives for a team that tries to recover the ball, as close as possible to the rival's goal, but mostly he wants the recovery of the ball to be
turned into an art form, he wants clearing off a ball to be a skill.
Without a doubt, this Dream Team has an exceptional defending line. Indeed, the coach will only use three defenders (Cecilia Rognoni, Argentina; Angie Skirving, Australia; and Maria Paz Ferrari, Argentina), all of whom will have to prove very versatile.
The players in the back row must be excellent from a technical, physical and conceptual viewpoint. Without a doubt, the three players chosen for this position fulfil these requirements. A defence without Rognoni is not the same as one without her. Vigil thinks that, if she were not in the defence line, then he would go for a 4-3-3 format.
But the talented Ferrari and Skirving are not left trailing behind. Ferrari is a defender whose playing is like that of a striker, since she possesses the velocity and the instinct of a striker. For her part, Skirving is a very complete defender.
Her technique, her tactics and her physical shape are excellent. Since Australia is known for its flexible structure apart from giving priority to ball recovery this talented defender will play a key role in this Dream Team.
For their part, the Argentine players are immersed in teamwork, constantly undergoing renovation. Thanks to their versatility, they not only defend, but are also well equipped for counterattack. This is quite evident in the case of Rognoni, able to surprise with a fast, generally lethal counterattack.
Embodiment of Perfection
Another trait of Vigil's is that he likes to subject the rivals to the rhythm and dynamics of his own team. This is why there could be no best choice than the excellent midfielders selected by web users.
The chosen midfielders embody to perfection the coach’s and certainly the voters' requirements when the moment came to make a decision. Argentina’s Luciana Aymar and Mariana Gonzalez Oliva, Holland's Minke Smabers and the England's Leisa King are dynamic and balanced. A playmaker like Smabers, supported by the ability and velocity of Aymar, the dynamics of Gonzalez Oliva and the fierce talent of King will certainly assure the rhythm of play in the area and the match, subjecting the rivals to their rhythm, as Vigil would have it.
Strikers’ special characteristics
Today, strikers are asked to cover the whole attack line. But the players chosen for this position Vanina Oneto and Soledad Garcia of Argentina, and Nikki Hudson of Australia ¨C have special characteristics which prompt the coach to make other decisions to profit from these elements. Thus, a player like Oneto will have to play as close as possible to the circle, while the creative Garcia will have to move across the front, and Hudson will, without a doubt, surprise for her velocity and change of rhythm.
Finally, the chosen goalkeeper is also from Argentina: Mariela Antoniska. Her choice is surely due to the evolution of her playing in the last two years, which she will have to validate in this tournament.
If the best players, in every regard intelligent players, unite, then a Dream Team should have no weak spots. However, Vigil thinks that, when so much talent is put together, the players' characteristics can become the team's Achilles heel.
Some of these players are the sole protagonists of their teams, and as such are used to handling a great percentage of the balls, this is why this role should be fairly distributed, the coach explains.
However, intelligent players are able to adapt to any system of playing and to any teammate, even they never played together before, because they know the secrets of the game, understand it and love it.
Argentina has certainly become the favourite once again, but it's quite strange that only one Dutch player should have been chosen. The absence of Chinese players, on the other hand, is probably due to the fact that www.FIHockey.org does not have many Chinese visitors, while New Zealand is renewing its team.
Be that as it may, this is the Dream Team of the 10th Champions Trophy chosen by fans of this sport. They do not seem to be wrong, since they have chosen 11 players endowed with enough talent, intelligence, flexibility and versatility to demonstrate how field hockey ought to be played.
Graciela’s Champions Trophy Dream Team
Vanina Oneto (ARG)
Soledad Garcia (ARG)
Nikki Hudson (AUS)
Luciana Aymar (ARG)
Marina Gonzalez Oliva (ARG)
Minke Smabers (NED)
Leisa King (ENG)
Cecilia Rognoni (ARG)
Angie Skirving (AUS)
Maria Paz Ferrari (ARG)
Mariela Antoniska (ARG)
Sergio Vigil (ARG)
Graciela Ortiz has been involved with hockey for 35 years, and has been a professional hockey journalist for 22 years. Graciela is the sports editor of the Buenos Aires Herald, and also contributes regularly to www.cityhockey.com and Radio Del Plata in Argentina, World Hockey magazine and other world hockey media.
Graciela's selection was taken from the provisonal team lists provided by the national associations and may differ from the final Team Entry Forms at the Champions Trophy
Photos courtesy Ady Kerry, Hockey Australia, Wolfgang Sternberger, Argentine Hockey Federation