Hot on the heels of the events which recently took place in Prague and Singapore, the first round of the International Hockey Federation’s ground-breaking Hockey World League continues this weekend with competitions in Ghana (Accra) and Wales (Cardiff).

The tournament in Accra features both men’s and women’s international teams in action. In the men’s competition, Egypt, Nigeria and host nation Ghana will fight it out to qualify for the second round.  Egypt, ranked 24 in the current FIH world rankings, will start the tournament as favourites, although they will expect a strong challenge from their opponents this weekend. The Egyptians were runners up to South Africa in the Africa Cup of Nations in 2011, with Ghana and Nigeria finishing third and fourth respectively. Nigeria are currently 70th in the FIH Rankings, making them the lowest ranked team in the competition. However, they should not be under-estimated and are more than capable of securing a berth in Round 2.  To view the event page for the men’s tournament in Ghana, please click here.

The women’s event in Ghana will be contested between just two teams, with Ghana and Nigeria battling it out for a place in Round 2. As host nation and the higher ranked of the two teams, Ghana (WR 31) may have the upper hand on an opponent currently sitting 23 places below them in the FIH Rankings.  However, Nigeria are a constantly improving team and this best of three series could be far closer than the current world rankings suggest.  To view the event page for the women’s tournament in Ghana, click here. 

Cardiff’s Sophia Gardens will play host to the Welsh leg of the Hockey World League Round 1 tournaments, which will feature the hosts competing against European rivals Ireland, Austria and Sweden.  Ireland are the highest ranked team in the tournament at 15th in the world, with Austria ranked 21st, Wales 29th and Sweden 35th. Ireland’s impressive form over the last 12 months suggests will take some stopping at this event, but Austria, Wales and Sweden are certainly not attending just to make up the numbers. The two highest finishers at the event in Cardiff will secure a place in Round 2 of the Hockey World League. To view the webpage for the event in Wales, please click here.

For those not in the know, the Hockey World League has been developed by the FIH to present hockey at its best whilst also providing rapidly improving hockey nations with a stage to show what they are capable of. The tournament has four rounds which take place between August 2012 and February 2013, with each round acting as a qualifier for the next. This process gives every team the potential reach the tournament final.  The Hockey World League also acts as the qualification competition for the FIH World Cups which take place in 2014, with 12 qualification places up for grabs.  To read more information about the aims and structure of the tournament, please click here.