As the Hockey Series Open continues to excite and inspire hockey fans around the world, the next men’s event is all set to get underway in the Portuguese city of Lousada.
Among the teams taking part in the sixth men’s event in the Series are two teams knocking on the door of the world’s top 20 - Scotland (FIH Hero World Ranking: 22) and Russia (WR:23).
For Scotland, the past two years have been very much an upward curve, with results including a win at the 2017 EuroHockey Championship II in Glasgow, qualification for the 2017 FIH Hockey World League Semi-Finals and a highest ever finish at the Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast earlier this year.
Scotland men’s Head Coach Derek Forsyth said, “I’m looking forward to the Hockey Series Open with a lot of new faces in the squad. It’s exciting times ahead with many young talented players emerging and getting this opportunity to play in a senior international tournament.”
The team from Russia, although the second highest ranked team in Lousada, is bringing a number of debutant players to the competition. Among these are the talented young defender Georgii Arusiia and midfield/striker Pavel Iurinov. Head Coach Vladimir Konkin will be looking to the experience of Iaroslav Loginov and Aleksei Maiorov to ensure Russia are in the mix for the top two places and qualification to one of three Hockey Series Finals to be played in 2019.
Ranked at 35 in the world Belarus are the third highest-ranked side at this event and they will be looking to upset the rankings. Belarus were unlucky not to qualify for the second round of the FIH Hockey World League in 2017 after they put in some good performances against good quality opposition. Uladzislau Belavusau was just one of a number of impressive Belarus players as he demonstrated his ability in front of goal. Certainly, Head Coach Sergej Drozdov will be hoping to finish near the top of the table.
Host nation Portugal are just behind Belarus with a world ranking of 36 and the two teams play off on the opening day of the event. With 11 of the squad under 21 years of age this is a team that is building for the future but a strong start against Belarus, coupled with home support, could see Portugal produce some surprise results.
The other two contenders in Lousada are Turkey (44) and Gibraltar (66). Both teams have been working hard on their elite squad development in recent months and either side could provide an upset over the higher ranked teams.
The biggest obstacle both squads face is inexperience among the players, but events such as these are exactly designed for that purpose – to give developing nations the opportunity to play high quality matches on an international stage.
The Hockey Series in Lousada starts on Tuesday 4 September and is a round-robin event, with the champion being crowned on Sunday 9 September.
The teams placed first and second will qualify for one of three Hockey Series Finals which will be played in 2019, offering berths into the Olympic Qualification Events up for grabs. Each of these Hockey Series Finals will consist of eight teams and will take place throughout the world.
For detailed information about the Hockey Series Finals and Olympic Qualification, visit the Q&A page on the FIH website .
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