This weekend, the vibrant and cosmopolitan southern Malaysian city of Johor Bahru will play host to the second men’s Hockey World League Semi Final, with six pulsating days of tournament action getting under way on Saturday.
The competition takes place from 29th June – 7th July 2013 and features eight top class international teams, with Germany, England, Pakistan, Korea, Argentina, South Africa and Japan joining host nation Malaysia in the tournament at the striking Johor Bahru Hockey Stadium.
A guaranteed three places at next year’s Rabobank Hockey World Cup in The Hague are up for grabs, so there is plenty at stake for all of the competing teams. To learn more about the qualification system for the Hockey World Cup, please click here.
We are delighted to report that the air quality in Johor Bahru – which was being impacted by smoke from forest fires in Indonesia – has significantly improved over recent days. The FIH and the Malaysian Hockey Confederation (MHC) will continue to closely monitor the situation throughout the duration of the tournament.
As per the HWL tournaments in Rotterdam and London, the competition in Johor features two Pools of four before the Quarter Finals, Semi Finals, Classification Matches and Final take place later in the week. Let’s take a closer look at the teams that will take to the field in Johor.
Beijing 2008 and London 2012 Olympic champions Germany (World Ranking: 1) enter the Hockey World League at the Semi Final stage, and are clear favourites for success here in Johor Bahru. Head coach Markus Weise has named a powerful team which includes FIH Player of the Year Moritz Fürste, outstanding midfielder Tobias Hauke, classy defender Max Müller as well as ace strikers Christopher Zeller, Thilo Stralkowski and Florian Fuchs, winner of the 2012 FIH Young Player of the Year Award. Another player to watch is Jan Philipp Rabente, who scored twice in the London Olympic final to give Germany the Gold medal ahead of The Netherlands. Although there is clearly masses of experience within the group, Weise has also shown that he is very much looking to the future by blooding a number of Germany’s hottest young talent. The youngest member of the team is 19 year old Christopher Ruhr, who impressed greatly during this season’s Euro Hockey League for club team Uhlenhorst Mülheim.
Korea (WR8) are another team packed with World Level experience. Their squad contains nine players who have well in excess of 100 international caps, two of which – Lee Nam Yong and You Hyo Sik, are members of the “200” club. Yoon Sung Hoon and Jang Jong Hyun are both closing in on that mark and could make their 200th international appearances here in Johor. Jang is one of the stars of the Korean side, thanks in part to his terrific penalty corner drag flick. He will almost certainly be amongst the Korean scorers at this event, and will be hoping that his goals can help seal a berth at next year’s Rabobank Hockey World Cup.
Argentina (WR10) arrive in Johor Bahru on a fine run of form, having won both of the FIH events that they entered following the London 2012 Olympics. The side produced a top class performance to defeat Pool A rivals Korea in the final of the Argentina Champions Challenge I on home soil at the end of last year before cruising through the Hockey World League Round 2 competition in Rio de Janeiro, winning all five of their matches and finishing with a staggeringly impressive goal difference of +34. 20 year old defender Gonzalo Peillat is fast earning a reputation as a genuinely world class penalty corner flicker, while free-scoring duo Lucas Villa and Guillermo “Willy” Schickendantz ensure that that Argentina are capable of bagging plenty of goals from open play.
Japan (WR16) are the lowest ranked team in the competition, but have certainly been in impressive form of late. They earned their place in the HWL Semi Finals by winning the Round 2 event in Elektrostal, seeing off the challenges of Austria, Czech Republic, Egypt, Ukraine and host nation Russia. The Asians claimed five wins from five matches in that competition, form that they will be hoping to reproduce in Malaysia this week. 29 year old Kei Kawakami is the team’s most experienced player with almost 150 caps, while Tomonori Ono and Katsuyoshi Nagasawa are both within touching distance of 100 senior international appearances.
England (WR4) come into the Hockey World League with a new look team that features a host of fresh faced talent. Seven players in the 18 man squad have less than ten international appearances to their name, with Ben Arnold, Oliver Willars, Henry Weir, Michael Hoare, Dan Shingles, Tom Carson and goalkeeper James Bailey all participating in their debut World Level event. Experience is provided by London 2012 Olympians Ashley Jackson, Nick Catlin, Richard Smith, Dan Fox, Harry Martin and Barry Middleton, the talismanic forward who captains the team. England are very much in transition, but are starting to find their feet under new coach Bobby Crutchley and are expected to be challenging for top honours in this competition.
Pakistan (WR5) has fine tradition of producing teams that are capable of competing with the very best in the world, and this current group is certainly no exception to the rule. The side has had a solid 12 months, with a seventh place finish at the London 2012 Olympics being followed by a brilliant showing at the Champions Trophy in Melbourne last December where they claimed the Bronze medal. The group contains seven players that have played over 100 times for their country, including Muhammad Imran and Muhammad Waqas, the captain and vice-captain respectively. However, the star of the show is brilliant attacker Shakeel Abbasi, a player who is capable of changing a game in the blink of an eye.
South Africa (WR12) qualified for the Semi Finals of the Hockey World League thanks to a second place finish at the HWL Round 2 event in Rio de Janeiro, where they finished just behind fellow Johor competitors Argentina. The youthful team coached by former South Africa midfielder Charlie Pereira has made great strides forward in recent months, and will certainly be looking to leave an impression here in Johor Bahru. The team is captained by Austin Smith, a player who is as versatile as he is inspirational. Another player worth keeping an eye on is Lloyd Norris-Jones, who has bags of pace and a wonderful eye for goal.
Malaysia (WR13) come into this competition on the back of a series defeat against Pool B rivals South Africa, but you can be sure that the host nation will be aiming to put on a good show in front of their adoring home fans. Head coach Paul Revington has named a strong team for this event in the hope of achieving World Cup qualification, something that they are more than capable of achieving if they produce their best form. The versatile Azlan Misron and veteran striker Chua Boon Huat have both played well over 300 times for their country, while 22 year old Faizal Saari is considered by many to be one of the most exciting talents in the game. It will be fascinating to see how they perform during this tournament.
For more information about the Hockey World League Semi Final event in Johor Bahru, please visit our official tournament microsite by clicking here. The microsite will bring you all of the news coming from the event, including written match reports, action photos, videos, official match documents, goal scoring statistics, match highlights and much more. The microsite will also reveal any late squad changes, with updated rosters being available ahead of the first day of competition.
Don’t forget, the FIH You Tube Channel will be providing free live streaming and highlights from the event in London. Further details about this can be found at the bottom of this story. We will also be posting regular updates through Facebook and Twitter throughout the duration of the event. The Twitter hashtag being used throughout the World League Semi Final events in Rotterdam, London and Johor Bahru is #WLR3. Links to our tournament microsite, Facebook, Twitter and You Tube pages can all be found below.
Live Streaming - Hockey World League Semi Final, Johor Bahru
The FIH You Tube Channel will be live streaming every match from the Hockey World League Semi Final in Johor Bahru to a global audience. However, due to licensing, legal and contractual agreements, there will be some geo-blocking restrictions in place. The details can be found below.
Due to the on-going dispute between You Tube and German performance rights organisation GEMA, we regret to announce that the FIH live stream from Johor Bahru will not be available in your territory. Apologies for any inconvenience caused.
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