Over the next two weeks, the vibrant Brazilian city of Rio de Janeiro plays host to not one but two crucially important international tournaments as the FIH World League sets up stage in South America.
Rio’s Deodoro Field Hockey Centre will be the venue for the Men’s and Women’s World League Round 2 events, with the men’s competition beginning on Wednesday (27 February) before the women’s equivalent gets underway next Monday (4th March 2013).
The men’s competition will feature Argentina (FIH World Ranking: 10), South Africa (12), Chile (25), USA (29), Brazil (33) and Trinidad & Tobago (34). The winner of the competition will secure a place in Round 3, while a second place finish could also be enough for a spot in the third phase of the World League. The full list of qualifiers will be announced upon the completion of the four men's Round 2 tournaments.
Top ranked Argentina will be considered by many as the favourites for the competition, something which is hardly a surprise considering their staggering recent run of form. Last December, the team were victorious on home soil in the Champions Challenge 1, a result which earned them a place in the next edition of the elite Champions Trophy. This was followed by a thoroughly dominant display in the South American Championships where they won all six of their matches, scoring 69 goals and conceding just five along the way.
That said, Argentina are certainly not nailed on to win this event, and will have to overcome some very stern challenges from the likes of South Africa and Chile. South Africa were not at their best during the Champions Challenge 1 and could only manage a 7th place finish, but a recent 3-0 friendly victory over Chile suggests that they are hitting form just at the right time. Chile have also shown great form in recent weeks, marked by their second place finish in the South American Championships. Their narrow 4-3 final defeat at the hands of Argentina provides solid evidence that they are a force to be reckoned with here in Rio.
The USA bring a youthful squad to Brazil, with three uncapped players – Johnny Orozco, Spencer Reed and Kanwarpreet Sidhu – joining the five fresh faces who played their debut tournament at Round 1 in Chula Vista. USA were winners of that event, and will be hoping to upset the rankings during Round 2.
Brazil and Trinidad & Tobago are the two lowest ranked sides in the competition, but certainly should not be underestimated. The rapidly improving Brazilians claimed a superb third place finish in the recent South American Championships, an achievement that they will be aiming to surpass in front of their supporters in the stands at the Deodoro Field Hockey Centre. Trinidad & Tobago were winners of the World League Round 1 event in Port of Spain, where they finished ahead of fellow Round 2 competitors Chile. The Chileans sit nine places above T&T in the FIH World Rankings, showing once again that nothing is a foregone conclusion in the World League.
The Men’s World League Round 2 tournament gets underway on Wednesday (27 February) and will feature all six teams in action. The competition begins at 09:00 (UTC / GMT -3) when South Africa and host nation Brazil go head to head before Argentina do battle with Trinidad & Tobago at 11:00. The final match of the day is a clash between Chile and USA, which takes place at 15.30. To see a complete list of fixtures for the tournament, please click here.
The Women’s World League Round 2 event begins on Monday 4th March and will feature USA (FIH World Ranking: 10), Chile (18), Scotland (19), Trinidad & Tobago (27), Uruguay (50) and host nation Brazil (51). The two highest finishers in this tournament are guaranteed a place in Round 3.
London 2012 Olympic participants USA will go into the competition as strong favourites, but Chile and Scotland are two sides that will be determined to grab the silverware in Rio. This will be the Chilean women’s first taste of the World League and will certainly be keen to leave a lasting impression. Scotland’s third place finish at the Round 1 event in Prague may seem uninspiring, but their statistics in that tournament tell a different story. The team achieved four wins from their five matches, which put them level on points with both Belarus and Italy but into third due to a marginally inferior goal difference.
50th ranked Uruguay were hugely impressive during Round 1 in Port of Spain, achieving a second place finish despite entering the competition as the fourth highest ranked team in the tournament. 41st ranked Barbados and 27th placed Trinidad & Tobago, who are also competing here in Rio, both fell to a Uruguayan team that has immense potential and will surely rise rapidly through the rankings over the coming years. Host nation Brazil maybe the lowest ranked team in the competition, but a fourth place finish at the recent South American Championships will give them great hope ahead of this event.
To see a complete list of fixtures for this tournament, please click here.
You can keep up to speed on all the developments from the tournaments on the FIH website, which will be regularly updated with the latest news, results and league tables. You can find the information at the following links.
You will also be able to keep up to date via Twitter by following @World_League1.
Posted 1 hour ago.
I heard on the news yesterday that Africa has seven of the fastest growing economies in the world. Africa is reputed...
Posted 18 hours ago.
Korea have beaten the Black Sticks Men 2-1 in the fourth test at Pukekohe this afternoon despite an improved...
Posted 2 days ago.
EHL Final Four hosts HC Bloemendaal have been crowned Euro Hockey League champions for a second time after winning a...
Posted 2 days ago.
Den Bosch have claimed a remarkable 13th elite European title in 14 seasons courtesy of a 4-2 victory over defending...
Posted 3 days ago.
Teun de Nooijer’s dream of winning the Euro Hockey League in his last ever playing season remains alive and kicking...
Posted 4 days ago.
An Investec South African women’s hockey squad flew to China late Wednesday for a training camp. The squad will be...