The Euro Hockey League - the hugely successful European club competition for men – explodes back into life next Friday at KO16 Hamburg. The event takes place between 10th and 13th April in Germany and features Round’s 2 and 3 of the competition, hosted by reigning EHL champions Uhlenhorster Hockey-Club. Sixteen of the finest club teams in Europe will go head to head over four days of action, and at the end of it just four teams will remain. It promises to be a thrilling weekend of tense, exciting hockey featuring some of the best players on the planet.
Here is a reminder of what happened in Round 1a and 1b of this year’s Euro Hockey League.
Round 1a – Amsterdam H&BC, The Netherlands.
Club Egara (ESP) travelled to Round 1a Amsterdam with 2008 WorldHockey Player of the Year Pol Amat added to their ranks and were simply brilliant in Pool A. The Spanish side destroyed Poland`s KS Pocztowiec Poznan 8-1 before producing a stunning performance to win 4-0 against German champions and fellow KO16 qualifiers Der Club an der Alster, with six goal hero Guillermo Schickendantz the star of the show.
There were no surprises in Pool B, as Dusseldorfer HC (GER) and St Germain (FRA) both qualified for KO16 ahead of plucky Italians HC Bra. Round 1a hosts Amsterdam H&BC got their EHL tournament off to a flyer with 8-1 and 8-0 victories over WKS Grunwald Poznan (POL) and Olimpia Kolos Sekvoia (UKR) respectively, while Grunwald`s 5-2 triumph over Sekvoia booked their place at KO16 Hamburg. 2001 European Champions HC Bloemendaal cruised past Russia`s Dinamo Kazan (8-1) and Cannock HC of England (5-2), with Teun de Nooijer, Ronald Brouwer and Australian genius Jamie Dwyer in fine form. Cannock reached KO16 thanks to a narrow 5-4 win over Kazan.
Round 1b – Lille MHC, Northern France.
At Round 1b in Lille, Dutch club H.C. Rotterdam and English champions Reading were too good for Western Wildcats (SCO) in Group E. Fellow Scots Kelburne also found life tough, falling to defeat against the impressive East Grinstead (ENG) and Waterloo Ducks (BEL) in Pool F.
Reigning EHL champions UHC Hamburg were stunned by a 4-1 loss against the outstanding RC de Polo de Barcelona in Pool G, but recovered sufficiently to defeat host club Lille MHC to stay in the competition. However, the biggest shock in the short history of the EHL occurred in Pool H, when KHC Leuven (BEL) and Three Rock Rovers (IRE) eliminated former European Champions Atlétic Terrassa (ESP). The star-studded Spanish outfit was thwarted by a magnificent defensive display from the Irishmen who forced a 0-0 draw, before Leuven compounded their misery with a brilliant 3-1 victory, proving that almost anything is possible in the world`s most exciting club hockey tournament.
Looking ahead to KO16 Hamburg, there are some potentially outstanding Round 2 matches. On Friday, Sebastian Biederlack’s Der Club an der Alster will be hungry for revenge against Club Egara, whilst newly-crowned English champions East Grinstead hope to get the better of the consistently impressive St Germain. Cannock have the difficult task of having to cope with Teun de Nooijer and Jamie Dwyer once again when they take on HC Bloemendaal, while the all-German clash between Düsseldorfer HC and tournament hosts UHC Hamburg is likely to be the highlight of the day.
Saturday’s action kicks off with RC Polo taking on Reading, before rising Netherland’s star Jeroen Hertzberger and Pakistan legend Sohail Abbas try to make the difference for H.C. Rotterdam against WKS Grunwald Poznan. Waterloo Ducks of Belgium will be hoping to get a result against the all-stars of Amsterdam H&BC, a team that includes Dutch drag-flick star Taeke Taekema and Spain forward Santi Freixa. The final Round 2 match will see KHC Leuven play Three Rock Rovers of Ireland for the second time in this year's competition.
There are some mouth-watering prospects for the Quarter Final matches, including the possibility of Amsterdam H&BC versus H.C. Rotterdam or even a chance for Club Egara to avenge their defeat in last season’s EHL semi final against eventual champions UHC Hamburg. However, anything can happen in the Knock-Out rounds of the Euro Hockey League. The one certainty is that the four day hockey extravaganza will be well worth watching.
Are you interested in seeing the action? The Euro Hockey League will be broadcasted by many stations around Europe including Eurosport and Eurosport Asia Pacific, Sky Sports (UK) and various other channels. A full broadcast schedule will appear on the Euro Hockey League website next week. Alternatively you can watch the Euro Hockey League matches at www.ehlhockey.tv via our live streaming service, which can be watched from virtually anywhere in the world with high speed internet access. Do not worry if you missed any of the matches, because every game will be uploaded onto www.ehlhockey.tv so you can watch the action over and over again.
EHL KO16 Hamburg: Fixtures
Friday 10th April 2009
09:30 – Club Egara (ESP) v Der Club an Der Alster (GER)
12:00 – East Grinstead (ENG) v St Germain (FRA)
14:30 – HC Bloemendaal (NED) v Cannock HC (ENG)
17:00 – Düsseldorfer HC (GER) v UHC Hamburg (GER)
Saturday 11th April 2009
09:30 – RC Polo Barcelona (ESP) v Reading HC (ENG)
12:00 – H.C. Rotterdam (NED) v WKS Grunwald Poznan (POL)
14:30 – Amsterdam H&BC (NED) v Waterloo Ducks (BEL)
17:00 – KHC Leuven (BEL) v Three Rock Rovers (IRE)
Sunday 12 April 2009 – Quarter Finals
12:00 – Düsseldorfer HC / UHC Hamburg v Club Egara / Club an Der Alster
14:30 – HC Bloemendaal / Cannock HC v East Grinstead / St Germain
Monday 13th April 2009 – Quarter Finals
12:00 – KHC Leuven / Three Rock Rovers v RC Polo / Reading HC
14:30 – H.C. Rotterdam / WKS Grunwald v Amsterdam / Waterloo Ducks
Match times are based on Central European Time (GMT+1)
Source: Euro Hockey League