The rosters for the six competing teams at the Athlon Car Lease FIH Road to London (Women) in Kontich, Belgium were announced today on the eve of the first day of the event.
The tournament is the second of three women’s Olympic qualification events. Only the winner of each of the three tournaments will make it to the London 2012 Games, making the events high-pressure affairs.
South Africa won the first women’s London spot at the qualifier in Delhi. .Vying for the second free space in Belgium are the women’s national teams from Spain, Ireland, France, Russia, Mexico and host Belgium.
The trio of central European teams are sure to be the favorites in Belgium as they come in separated by a mere five World Ranking points. Spain has the slight advantage with a #11 World Ranking, while Ireland and Belgium are #14 and #16, respectively.
The last time Ireland and Spain met in an official FIH event was at the Champions Challenge 1 in Dublin where they battled to a 1-1 draw, meaning the follow-up meeting is sure to be a closely contested affair. Belgium and Russia most recently played at the Champions Challenge II in Vienna, which Belgium won, earning the right to bump up to the next level. When Belgium and #21 Russia met, it was a clear 4-0 victory for Belgium.
The tournament will kick off on Saturday, March 17 when Spain and #30 Mexico meet. Ireland will take on #25 France in the middle game and the first fireworks will fly in the late game when Belgium and Russia meet as the closest-ranked duel on Day One.
The teams will play a five-game round robin the first week of action. On the final day the teams ranked 1-2 will meet for the berth to London and the remaining four teams will play placement games.
Editor’s Note: Due to the overlap of the Electric Ireland FIH Road to London Men’s Tournament in Dublin and the start of the women’s qualifier in Belgium, the FIH website will redirect to the Dublin page until the final game is played on Sunday. Fans of the tournament in Belgium can find that official homepage by clicking on the logo and link located on the right hand side of the page.
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