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Aug. 2, 2016 — Olympic field hockey preview: Pool A

Today, we begin our Olympic field hockey preview with the six teams in Pool A, four of which will make the knockout quarterfinals.

CHINA
How they got here: Made FIH World League Semifinals
Key players: Peng Yang, Zhao Yudiao, Song Quingling
Outlook: The Chinese team has had a precipitous fall since their silver medal in 2008. The team finished sixth at the World Cup, where they lost to the United States 5-0. Rio will be China’s chance at redemption

GERMANY
How they got here: Made FIH World League Semifinals
Key players: Yvonne Frank, Luisa Steindor, Kristina Hillmann
Outlook: With the retirement of Fanny Rinne and Natascha Keller, Germany’s fortunes have taken a plunge since their gold-medal form at Athens 2004. Indeed, during the World Cup two years ago, they fell 4-0 adrift to the United States before losing 4-1. The team finished a disastrous eighth

HOLLAND
How they got here: Made FIH World League Semifinals
Key players: Maartje Paumen, Naomi Van As, Ellen Hoog
Outlook: The best team in the world, the Oranje are the defending Olympic and World Cup champions. But they can be had; the team fell to England in the Eurohockey championship, finished a lowly fifth in the most recent FIH World League, and, most importantly, finished second at the Champions’ Trophy barely six weeks ago

NEW ZEALAND
How they got here: Made FIH World League Semifinals
Key players: Kayla Whitelock, Gemma Flynn, Anita McLaren
Outlook: The Black Sticks’ central defense is affected with the announcement that veteran back Emily Gaddum is pregnant and would miss the Olympics. Much will be asked of striker Kelsey Smith, who had just 13 caps coming into the Games

SOUTH KOREA
How they got here: Won Asian Games
Key players: Jang Soo-Ji, Kim Jong-Eun, Kim Young-Ran, Cheon Seul-Ke
Outlook: There are a number of players on this team for whom this is their third Olympics. Cheon was just 19 years old when she helped knock the United States out of the 2010 World Cup

SPAIN
How they got here: Made FIH World League Semifinals
Key players: Maria Lopez, Rocio Ybarra, Maria Romagosa
Outlook: The Red Devils have not had the best of luck since winning Barcelona gold in 1992; they failed to qualify for London 2012 and the 2014 World Cup, and finished a lowly fourth in the Eurohockey qualifier

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