Argentina eye World Cup despite protests

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src=' ' class='caption'> Hosts Argentina are favourites to add the women's World Cup title to the Champions Trophy crown they secured six weeks ago when the 12-nation tournament opens o

Updated: August 28, 2010 17:04 IST
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Rosario, Argentina :

Hosts Argentina are favourites to add the women's World Cup title to the Champions Trophy crown they secured six weeks ago when the 12-nation tournament opens on Sunday.

But the build-up to the event was marred by security concerns after protestors blocked the road to the World Cup stadium with burning tyres which forced visitors to divert past shanties in the poorest parts of Rosario.

The protests were aimed the financial costs of the arena as well as a plush casino which has been built in the city.

The tournament features two pools of six.

Pool A contains world number one Netherlands, Germany, Australia, New Zealand, Japan and India while and Pool B boasts Argentina, China, England, Spain, South Korea and South Africa.

The top two teams in each pool move into the semi finals, likely to be Netherlands and Germany from Pool A and Argentina and China or England from Pool B.

Netherlands have the edge on neighbour Germany, winning 1-0 at the Champions Trophy six weeks ago.

However, inspirational Germany skipper Fanny Rinne's return from injury should lift the team into contention for a medal.

Challenges in Pool A will come from Australia and New Zealand, each with similar styles but with the Kiwis having bragging rights after beating Australia in the Oceania qualifier and taking fifth place 4-3 over China at the Champions Trophy.

Lowest-ranked India will struggle to win matches without the striking power of injured Arjuna Award winner Mamta Kharab.

In Pool B wily China coach Kim Sang Ryul is expected to spring surprises by having his team peak here rather than at the Nottingham Champions Trophy.

He has introduced striker Liao Jiahui to support Fu Baorong, the Champions Trophy highest field goal scorer, and Song Quinling.

England will likely find China's firepower too hot to handle in the pool match and China will probably avenge their 2-1 loss in Nottingham.

South Africa are the only wild card in Pool B as captain and world all-star player Marsha Marescia is reunited with Pietie Coetzee who is back from retirement, ready to add to her 193 goals from 190 internationals with a lethal drag flick now in her striking arsenal.

Luciana Aymar, Argentina's six-time international player of the year, enjoys rock-star adoration here.

Nothing less than Aymar's Rosario home-town World Cup victory will satisfy Argentina fans who have sold out the 8,000-seat stadium built for this tournament.

Argentina coach Carlos Retegui experimented with the playing systems of his team at Nottingham and has settled on four defenders, three midfielders and three strikers, using the mobility of Aymar as a supplementary striker.

Noel Barrionuevo top-scored in Nottingham with eight penalty corner conversions to Netherlands Maartje Pauman's four.

Dutch coach Herman Kruis was critical of Netherlands failure to force any penalty corners in the Champions Trophy final and will have schooled his team to force more to lift their scoring chances.

Sunday's Pool B matches have China against Korea, Spain versus England while Argentina meet South Africa.

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