The ABN AMRO FIH Champions Trophy will go underway on Saturday in the German city of Monchengladbach. This year’s event will be an especially interesting one because the young teams from Australia, host nation Germany and the Netherlands face the more experienced squads from England, New Zealand and Spain.
With the Hero Honda FIH World Cup already taken place earlier this year in New Delhi, all coaches have already the 2012 Olympics in their minds and need to start in time with preparing a competitive team for London. The ABN AMRO FIH Champions Trophy will present the hockey stars of the future.
Australia are the current leaders of the World Ranking. The World Champions left key players like Kiel BROWN, Liam DE YOUNG, Rob HAMMOND, Mark KNOWLES and Grant SCHUBERT at home to give young ones a chance. “All of those players are quality, experienced players. However the squad chosen was done so with a view to build depth and continue experimenting with structures and players”, said coach Ric CHARLESWORTH. The ABN AMRO FIH Champions Trophy is the first major event for five Kookaburras. The oldest and most experienced player in the Australian team is 31 years old Jamie DWYER with 237 caps. He has been selected as player of the year for three times.
The Kookaburras won the last two Champions Trophies, 2009 in Melbourne (AUS) and 2008 in Rotterdam (NED).
England have to play without the injured Richard MANTELL, Matt DALY and captain Barry MIDDLETON.
Nevertheless coach Jason LEE still has an experienced team with Glenn KIRKHAM, Rob MOORE and Ben HAWES all having made more than 150 caps for England. The 18 years old Andy BULL is the youngest member of the world-ranked sixth. The English team played a last test-series against Spain in Lilleshall, finishing with one loss and two draws. Great Britain, their team is nearly identical with the English, were close to beat Germany in the final of the Four Nations held in Nottingham but Jan-Marco MONTAG made the golden goal in extra-time for the Olympic Champion. England have the oldest squad with an average age of 25 years and 342 days.
Host nation Germany have four Junior World Cup Winners from 2009 in their team including defender Martin HÄNER and the 18 years old forward Florian FUCHS who have already played at Delhi’s World Cup. The oldest player is 30 years old second goalkeeper Tim JESSULAT, most international matches played Jan-Marco MONTAG with 175 in total. Penalty corner shooter Christopher ZELLER who missed the World Cup because of study reasons came back for the ABN AMRO FIH Champions Trophy. Former captain Timo WESS and forward Matthias WITTHAUS currently take a break from international competitions. Coach Markus WEISE who led the German men to Gold in Beijing 2008 after taking the Gold medal with Germany’s women in Athens 2004, is used to build up a new competitive team for major events. Germany turned Vice-Champion in Delhi although they played without the ZELLER-brothers and WESS.
The ABN AMRO FIH Champions Trophy is the first FIH world level tournament for the new coach Paul van ASS who took over from Michel van den HEUVEL. Van ASS is former coach of the under 21 and led the Dutch into the final of 2009’s Junior World Cup. Van ASS selected more than 40 players who have a chance to play the 2012 Olympics. The preparation for London started officially at the beginning of July with the “Hamburg Masters” Four Nations. Teun de NOOIJER is the oldest and also most experienced player at this event: The 34 years old participated in 423 international matches. He will make an all-time record 16th appearance in this Champions Trophy, surpassing the record of 15 by fellow Dutchman Jeroen Delmee.
The Netherlands have a quite inexperienced team in this competition: De NOOIJER, Floris EVERS and Robert van der HORST are the only players with more than 100 caps.
Top scorer Taeke TAEKEMA misses this Champions Trophy because of his honeymoon.
The Black Sticks are qualified as Winners of 2009’s Champions Challenge in Salta, Argentina. The world-ranked seventh played their last Champions Trophy in 2004 in Lahore, Pakistan. As a preparation for the ABN AMRO FIH Champions Trophy New Zealand participated in Nottingham’s Four Nations finishing third after beating Japan in the Bronze Medal match. With captain Philip BURROWS, Blair HOPPING, Dean COUZINS and Ryan ARCHIBALD they have four players with more than 200 international matches. ARCHIBALD, BURROWS and youngster Simon CHILD play overseas at HC Rotterdam in the Netherlands. Black Sticks coach Shane McLEOD introduced five players from the under 21 who made a surprisingly fourth place at the Junior World Cup in Singapore/Malaysia.
The Olympic Silver Medal Winners are led by captain Santi FREIXA. The southern Europeans have a mixed line-up between very experienced players like FREIXA, the brothers Ramon and David ALEGRE, Alex FÁBREGAS or Sergi ENRIQUE as well as young aspiring men like Roc OLIVA, Gabriel DABANCH or Xavi LLEONART. Manel TERRAZA will have his international debut at the ABN AMRO FIH Champion Trophy. Pol AMAT, Xavier RIBAS and Rodrigo GARZA who have played all Champions Trophies from 2005 until 2009 are not included in this year’s team. Spain won this FIH flagship event 2004 in Lahore the last time. Their best ranking in the nearer past was a second place in Rotterdam 2008.
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