A lot has changed since Rio 2016 for Argentina. If we talk about the women’s team Las Leonas, they have been dealing with ups and downs, on and off the field. Despite this, everything will go down once the whistle blows in Tokyo next Monday for the women.
A turning point
Many Argentinian fans say “Las Leonas are not the same without Luciana Aymar”. And guess what? It’s true. Of course, it is. How can you replace a player who was chosen 8 times as the best in the world? How can you replace a player that has always been part of a team that won it all for almost two decades? All except a gold medal at an Olympic game that is.
The answer is short and clear: You cannot.
After the downfall that was Rio 2016 when for once in a long time Las Leonas didn’t get to put a foot on the podium, this team faced the hard truth: Luciana Aymar was gone and there wasn’t going to be a magical player that was going to fix things. It was on their hands now to figure a solution out.
Let’s be clear here. Argentina had a lot of great players in that tournament. Maria José (Majo) Granatto, Delfina Merino, Carla Rebecchi… all of them could be counted among some of the most outstanding players they had in 2016. But Aymar’s retirement was still too fresh back then and that team ended up qualifying for quarter-finals in the last place (4th in the group). As a consequence, they had to face the all-mighty Netherlands in knock-out rounds.
And of course, the Netherlands didn’t show mercy and put two against Belen Succi’s goal before even 30 minutes into the match. Florencia Habif put one for Argentina but minutes later Jonker put the match 3-1. Las Leonas kept pushing and Delfina Merino scored one more for Argentina but the Netherlands secured the result in the end and Las Leonas run at the Olympics was cut short too soon after 3 straight Olympic medals gotten in Sydney 2000, Beijing 2008, and London 2012.
The squad for Tokyo
A lot of water has passed under the bridge since Rio and more so since Aymar’s retirement. And it looks like Las Leonas have finally moved on. If we take a look at the squad, we will see many new faces compared to those who played at the Olympics in 2016.
#LasLeonas🐅🇦🇷 listas para la ceremonia de apertura y el encendido de la llama 🔥 Olímpica
— ARG Field Hockey (@ArgFieldHockey) July 23, 2021
These are the players called for Tokyo:
1. Belen Succi: Goalkeeper. 35 years old. Third Olympic game for her. 240 international caps. She won bronze in Beijing 2008.
2. Clara Barberi: Goalkeeper. 27 years old. First Olympic game for her. 1 international cap – reserve.
3. Noel Barrionuevo: Defender. 37 years old. Fourth Olympic games for her. 337 international caps.
4. Agustina Gorzelany: Defender. 25 years old. First Olympic game for her. 55 international caps.
5. Valentina Costa Biondi: Defender. 25 years old. First Olympic game for her. 38 international caps.
6. María Emilia Forcherio: Defender. 26 years old. First Olympic game for her. 5 international caps.
7. Valentina Raposo: Defender. 18 years old. First Olympic game for her. 2 international caps.
8. Micaela Retegui: Winger. 25 years old. First Olympic game for her. 40 international caps.
9. Eugenia Trinchinetti: Winger. 24 years old. First Olympic game for her. 103 international caps.
10. Sofia Toccalino: Winger. 24 years old. First Olympic game for her. 95 international caps.
11. Agostina Alonso: Winger. 25 years old. First Olympic game for her. 83 international caps.
12. Victoria Sauze: Winger. 30 years old. First Olympic game for her. 83 international caps.
13. Sofia Maccari: Winger. 37 years old. Second Olympic game for her after London 2012. 59 international caps.
14. Julieta Jankunas: Forward. 22 years old. First Olympic game for her. 102 international caps.
15. Maria José Granatto: Forward. 26 years old. Second Olympic games after Rio 2016. 134 international caps.
16. Agustina Albertarrio: Forward. 28 years old. Second Olympic game after Rio 2016. 168 international caps.
17. Victoria Granatto: Forward. 28 years old. First Olympic game for her. 26 international caps.
18. Delfina Merino: Forwards. 31 years old. Third Olympic game for her after London 2012 and Rio 2016. 296 international caps.
The list of players called by coach Carlos Retegui features 3 players that are going to play their third Olympics. These are Belén Succi, Rocío Sánchez Moccia y Delfina Merino. In the case of María José Granatto y Agustina Albertarrio, they will play their second Olympic games.
Noel Barrionuevo is the most capped player of the list and Tokyo will be her fourth Olympic.
The rest of the players on the list (10 out of 18) will make their Olympic debut.
This Games will also bring the return of a historic player to Las Leonas. We’re talking about Sofia Maccari, who played with the team in London 2012 and won a silver medal. Her chances of stepping on the field are not that big, though, because she’s part of the reserves along with Maria Emilia Forcherio and Clara Barberi.
Finally, Bárbara Dichiara, Constanza Cerundolo y Cristina Cosentino traveled with the team and are the reserves of the reserves.
After years of preparation and one extra year due to the COVID delay, these players are ready to jump on the pitch and write more history for Argentina. They already got second place at the FIH Pro League and now they will look to get first place in this major tournament.
Las Leonas are included in group B and will debut on Sunday 25th against New Zealand (00:15 am GMT-3). Their second match will be against Spain one day after their debut at 7 am (GMT-3). The third match will be against China on Wednesday 28th at 7 am (GMT-3). The next game against the hosts, Japan, is on Thursday 29th at 8:45 am (GMT-3) and they will close their group phase on Friday 30th at 11:45 pm (GMT-3).
¡Agenda completa para seguir toda la actividad de #LasLeonas🐅🇦🇷 durante los Juegos Olímpicos de Tokio!
¡Vas a poder seguir toda la actividad y resultados por nuestras redes y web!
— ARG Field Hockey (@ArgFieldHockey) July 21, 2021