(Photo: Frank Uijlenbroek)

With the start of Champions Challenge 1 just two days away, we take a quick look at the teams who will be participating at the National Hockey Centre in Glasgow. The teams will play in two pools, followed by a quarter-final crossover and a final, which will take place on Sunday 4 May. Here is the low-down on Pool B.

 

Pool B – United States, South Africa, Spain, Ireland

United States (world ranking 10)
USA have a strong reputation in the Champions Challenge 1, having claimed the silver medal at the two most recent editions of the competition. Japan and Australia took the respective gold medals in the 2011 and 2012 events, but they will be hoping to make it third time lucky at the 2014 tournament in Glasgow. They have produced some fine form in coming into this competition, having recently recorded a 4-0 series win against North American neighbours Canada. Their squad is packed full of experience. Eight players have represented the USA senior side over 100 times, with ace midfielder Rachel Dawson and team captain Lauren Crandall having also surpassed the 200 cap mark. Dawson, defender Katie Reinprecht and attacking midfielder Kathleen Sharkey are all world class talents, a fact proven by the trio’s inclusion in the 2013 Pan American Elite Team, which recognises the finest players in the Pan Am region. The team is coached by Englishman Craig Parnham, with former Dutch international Janneke Schopman joining the staff in the role of assistant coach. Schopman, a double Olympic medallist, brings masses of world level experience to the table, being able to pass on her knowledge to a group that is aiming to achieve big things both here in Glasgow and at this summer’s Rabobank Hockey World Cup in The Hague, Netherlands.

South Africa (11)
The USA may well be considered favourites to top Pool A, but South Africa – who sit just one ranking place below the Americans – are expected to push them all the way in Glasgow. Head coach Giles Bonnet has made his title intentions clear by naming a squad that contains no fewer than 13 players who have made over 100 senior appearances for their country, ensuring that the African champions are more than capable of mixing it with the best teams at this tournament. That being said, the team will have to do it without two key players, with world record goal-scorer Pietie Coetzee and midfielder Jade Mayne both absent through injury. The Champions Challenge 1 in Glasgow is the first of three major international tournaments on European soil for South Africa, with the Rabobank Hockey World Cup (The Hague, NED) and the Commonwealth Games (Glasgow, SCO) also on the horizon. 

Spain (14)
Spain have been going through something of a transitional phase recently, with head coach Adrian Lock very much looking to the future following their failure to qualify for the London 2012 Olympic Games. The English born tactician has started spent the first 12 months of his reign introducing a large number of talented youngsters to the rigours of senior international hockey. The fresh faced team managed to grab a fifth place finish at the TriFinance EuroHockey Championships, suggesting that this inexperienced but gifted group is making big strides in the right direction. Lock will be looking for further improvement at the Champions Challenge 1, a tournament where they have achieved fourth place finishes on two occasions (2009 in Cape Town, South Africa & 2011 in Dublin, Ireland).

Ireland (15)
Despite being the second lowest ranked team in the tournament, Ireland are certainly not a side to be taken lightly. They have competed in the last two editions of the Champions Challenge 1, finishing 6th at the 2011 event in Dublin before claiming the bronze medal in 2012, which also took place in the Irish capital. They have improved massively in recent years and will be determined to continue that progression in Glasgow. Earlier this year, head coach Darren Smith took a largely experimental side to Terrassa for a training camp and four matches against Spain. It proved to a very successful exercise, with Ireland winning the series against their marginally higher ranked opponents by two games to one. Many of the players involved in that series victory have been given their chance to shine in the Champions Challenge 1 tournament, including 18 year old goalkeeper Ayeisha O’Flynn and Emily Beatty, 20. These young guns have plenty of experienced players to look up to, with Michelle Harvey (120+ caps), Cliodhna Sargent (130+), Shirley McCay (150+) and Audrey O’Flynn (100+) all having reached the 100 cap landmark.

 

TOURNAMENT RESULT HISTORY

 

Year

Location

Placing

2001

Randburg (RSA)

1. ENG

2. KOR

3. IND

4. RSA

5. USA

6. RUS

 

 

2003

Catania (ITA)

1. GER

2. ESP

3. JPN

4. NZL

5. USA

6. ITA

 

 

2005

Virginia Beach (USA)

1. NZL

2. RSA

3. JPN

4. ENG

5. USA

6. ESP

 

 

2007

Baku (AZE)

1. CHN

2. KOR

3. ENG

4. USA

5. NZL

6. AZE

 

 

2009

Cape Town (RSA)

1. NZL

2. RSA

3. JPN

4. ESP

5. ITA

6. CHI

7. AZE

 

2011

Dublin (IRL)

1. JPN

2. USA

3. SCO

4. ESP

5. RSA

6. IRL

7. IND

8. AZE

2012

Dublin (IRL)

1. AUS

2. USA

3. IRL

4. SCO

5. BEL

6. RSA

7. IND

8. WAL

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For more information about the Champions Challenge 1 visit our official tournament event sites by clicking here. The event page will bring you all of the news coming from the event including written match reports, action photos, official match documents, goal scoring statistics, match highlights and much more. The site will also publish any late squad changes, with updated rosters being available ahead of the start of competition.

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