Teams all set for next WorldHockey Qualifier
01 Apr 2008 07:25
This weekend sees the start of the final men’s WorldHockeys Olympic qualifier, where the national teams from Germany, Japan, Malaysia, Poland, Switzerland and Italy will battle it out for the last remaining place at the Beijing Olympics. The tournament takes place at Kakamigahara, Japan, and looks set to be a thrilling spectacle.
The opening matches of the tournament see Germany take on Italy, with Malaysia playing Poland and Switzerland facing host nation Japan in front of an expected sell-out crowd. All of the teams will play each other in the round-robin phase of the event before the tournament classification matches take place on Sunday 13 April.
The winner of the tournament will join China, Korea, Pakistan, South Africa, Canada, The Netherlands, Spain, Belgium, Australia, New Zealand and Great Britain at the Olympic hockey tournament.
The following teams will fight for the last Beijing vacancy:
GERMANY: The current world number one ranked team was World Cup winners in 2006 and also victorious in the Champions Trophy in 2007. In Christopher Zeller they have one of the world’s best strikers, but he is only just returning to full fitness.
JAPAN: The tournament hosts are currently ranked 11 in the world, and are a well structured side with plenty of agility. The experience of Kanichi Katayama and captain Takahiko Yamabori will be vital if they are to have success here.
MALAYSIA: The 14th best team in the world has a good blend of experience and youth, and is capable of causing problems to any team. Chua Boon Huat is their most noticeable player, and with over 260 caps has bags of experience.
POLAND: Known more for their abilities indoor rather than the outdoor game, thanks to reaching the world cup final last year, Poland are currently ranked 21 in the world but have been training hard ahead of this tournament.
SWITZERLAND: Currently ranked 33rd in the world, Switzerland are going to have to play to their very best if their dreams of qualification are to be realized. Thomas Gahwiler is their most experienced player with 75 caps, with eight other players having over 50 caps.
ITALY: This side is athletic and enthusiastic, but is considered to be outsiders for the tournament due to their world ranking of 37. However, tournament preparations have gone well and they may be capable of a few upsets.
You can find more information on the tournament website by clicking here. The microsite aims to provide up to the minute information, with results, scorers, action photos and full tables available for viewing. The site also plans to use the popular 'Live Commentary' feature, giving you the chance to view written reports from your computer as the action takes place.