Minnows Uruguay defy FIH rankings in Hockey World League
The women’s Hockey World League Round 1 event in Port of Spain (Trinidad & Tobago) has got off to a cracking start with a staggering 40 goals being scored in the opening six matches of the competition. Table toppers and top seeds Canada (FIH World Ranking: 23) are solely responsible for 22 of those goals thanks to big wins over Venezuela (58) and Guyana (also 58), the two lowest ranked teams taking part in the tournament.
On Sunday, the Canadians showed ruthless efficiency in the scoring circle to power to a 12-0 triumph over Venezuela, with Brienne Stairs netting four field goals in the contest. A day later Stairs took her tournament tally to six thanks to a double strike in her team’s 10-0 victory against Ghana, a match which saw eight different players get their name on the score-sheet.
Canada’s explosive start suggests that they will take some stopping in this competition, although a unlikely challenger may come in the shape of Uruguay, a team placed a lowly 50th in the FIH World Rankings. Unsurprisingly considered underdogs ahead of the tournament, the South Americans have well and truly destroyed that assumption thanks to two hugely impressive victories over teams ranked far higher than them. A stunning 8-0 win over 41st ranked Barbados was followed by a brilliant 2-0 win over Trinidad & Tobago, the tournament hosts and 27th best team in the world. Successive wins over supposedly superior opposition not only puts Uruguay level on points with the free scoring Canadians but will also ensure that they are full of belief when the they face their North American rivals in what could be the title decider on Saturday.
Despite their defeat to Uruguay on Monday, Trinidad & Tobago currently sit third in the league table thanks to Sunday’s 5-0 win over Guyana. Venezuela are fourth in the standings following a 2-1 success, with Guyana again the losing team. Barbados and Guyana have both been defeated twice in the competition and occupy the bottom two places in table. The three highest finishers at the tournament in Port of Spain will earn qualification to Round 2 of the Hockey World League.
The women’s competition resumes on Wednesday when Barbados face the unenviable task of trying to earn their first points of the tournament against high flying Canada at 0900 (UTC/GMT -4). At 1100, Uruguay will aim to continue their fine form when they take on Guyana before the day’s hockey is completed when Venzuela face Trinidad & Tobago at 1300.
The tournament in Trinidad & Tobago is the fifth Women’s World League Round 1 event to take place this year following competitions in Czech Republic (Prague), Ghana (Accra), Kuantan (Malaysia) and Vienna (Austria). So far, Belarus, Italy, Scotland, Czech Republic, Ghana, Belgium, Russia, Ukraine, Austria, Malaysia and Kazakhstan have already booked their places in the second round of the competition, with three more places up for grabs this coming week.
Wednesday will witness the start of the men’s Hockey World League competition with top ranked Chile (25) playing Barbados (47) before Trinidad & Tobago (34) face Venezuela (57). The men’s tournament in Port of Spain is the sixth HWL Round 1 event to take place so far, with Poland, Ukraine, Bangladesh, Ireland, Austria, Egypt, Scotland and Portugal winning through to Round 2 with strong performances at respective events in Prague (Czech Republic), Singapore, Cardiff (Wales), Accra (Ghana) and Lousada (Portugal).
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.
Official match reports from the competition will be posted to the Port of Spain 2012 World League webpages at the end of each tournament day. To view these sites, please click the links below.
For real-time results, please follow the FIH World League Twitter page:@World_League1.