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Hockey goes Indoors

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The new year is getting off to an exciting bang as the indoor season in Europe gets to the business end of things. Not only are the strong domestic leagues of Germany, the Netherlands and England coming to their final stages but European competitions are now also getting underway.

The stellar event in the European Hockey Federation calendar is the men’s EuroHockey Indoor Championships which are taking place in Antwerp, Belgium from 12-14 January. The 7,000 seater Lotto Arena is playing host to the top European sides, with Germany firm favourites to take the title that they have won for 15 of the 17 years this competition has run.

Germany line up in Pool A with Denmark, Poland and the Czech Republic. In Pool B Austria are the team to beat. The number-two-in-the-world team faces opposition from Russia, Switzerland and hosts Belgium.

The second and third tier events (EuroHockey Indoor Championships II and III) are taking place in Turkey and Cyprus respectively. In total, 23 European nations will be contesting the three events. These include non-ranked sides such as Greece, Slovenia and Cyprus, as well as the more established indoor-playing nations.

The women’s EuroHockey Indoor Championships take place the following week, running from 19-21 January. The Championship takes place in Prague, the Czech Republic, where the number one ranked team, the Netherlands, face Belarus, Poland and Switzerland in Pool A and Germany will play Ukraine, Russia and the host nation.

The second and third tier events take place in Brussels, Belgium and Apace, Slovenia, respectively. All the action and up-to-the-minute scores can be found on the EuroHockey website <eurohockey.org>

World Cup action in Berlin

The indoor season comes to a globally-focused grand finale with the fifth Indoor Hockey World Cup for men and women that is taking place in Germany from 7-11 February.

12 men’s and 12 women’s teams will be contesting the event, which takes place in Berlin. The women’s event gets underway on 7 February at 9am (CET) when Australia take on Ukraine. The men’s event sees the world number one side, Germany face Kazakhstan at 12.20 (CET). There then follows three full days of pool action before the quarter finals on 10 February. The semi-finals take place the same day and then the men’s and women’s finals will take place on 11 February.

The competing teams are as follows.

Men’s Indoor Hockey World Cup

Pool A

Australia (World ranking: 11)

Czech Republic (WR:6)

Germany (WR:1)

Kazakhstan (WR:16)

Poland (WR:5)

Trinidad and Tobago (WR:41)

Pool B

Austria (WR:2)

Belgium ((WR:16)

Iran ((WR: 7)

Russia (WR:4)

South Africa (WR:12)

Switzerland (WR:8)

Women’s Indoor Hockey World Cup

Pool A

Belarus (WR:5)
Kazakhstan ((WR:12)

Netherlands (WR:1)

Poland (WR:4)

Switzerland (WR:19)

United States (WR:28)

Pool B

Australia (WR:8)

Czech Republic (WR:3)

Germany (WR:2)

Namibia (WR:14)

Russia (WR:17)

Ukraine (WR:7)

A quick glance at the world rankings will show a few interesting match-ups. In the men’s section, the unknown quantity is the representative from the Pan American Hockey region, Trinidad and Tobago. The Caribbean island team astonished their opponents at the Pan-Am qualifying event in Guyana where they beat the tournament favourites Canada in a close 7-5 encounter before destroying Argentina 7-0 in the final. Led by the evergreen Solomon Eccles and with quality players such as Akim Toussaint in the ranks, this could be a “Cool Runnings” moment in indoor hockey history.

The title holders the Netherlands are not appearing at this edition, so three times champions Germany will be hoping to add a fourth title. The sharp-shooter from Austria, Michael Korper, will be leading his team’s attempt to bring a major hockey trophy back to his homeland. Austria were runners-up in 2015 and have the experience and ability to go one better this time.

Similarly, in the women’s event, the USA are an unknown side as they take on the challenge of their first Indoor Hockey World Cup. Head coach Jun Kentwell has chosen a youthful side, with eight teenagers in the squad of 12: youngest of these is 16 year old Madison Orobono. Despite their youth, this team thrilled at the Pan Am Indoor Hockey Cup and could throw up some surprises. Ali Campbell, who was voted ‘most valuable player’ at the PAHF event will be integral to the team’s success.

In direct contrast, the world number two team, Germany, will be fielding a very experienced side with many of their outdoor squad gracing the indoor field of play. Lydia Haase, Janne Muller-Weiland, Lisa Altenburg and Franzisca Hauke are just some of the players who will be seeking to win a third indoor title for Germany (they were champions win 2003 and 2011). Current title holders, the Netherlands, will be certain to mount a strong campaign to maintain an incredible winning streak in both the indoor and outdoor versions of the game.

To keep up with all the Indoor Hockey World Cup action, visit the FIH website and click on the event page. <http://www.fih.ch/events/indoor-world-cup/>

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