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Hockey: World Cup qualification starts with Asia Cup, Pan Am Cups

Lausanne (Switzerland) :┬áThe qualifying programme for the next men’s and women’s hockey World Cup championships will start this week with the Pan American Cups in Santiago, Chile, and the women’s Asia Cup in Muscat, Oman.

First up will be the Pan American Cups for men and women in Santiago starting on Wednesday which will decide two places for the men’s world cup to be held in January 2023 and three places for the women’s edition to be held in June 2022.

At Santiago, the top two teams in the men’s hockey World Cup championships will start this week with the Pan American Cups in Sants competition and the top three in the women’s event will qualify for the next blue riband event in international hockey — the FIH Hockey Women’s World Cup in Spain and the Netherlands 2022 and the FIH Odisha Hockey Men’s World Cup, Bhubaneswar and Rourkela 2023.

The stakes are also high for the competing teams in Muscat, which has stepped in as host after the event was moved from Bangkok, Thailand last month, with the event starting on Friday (January 21).

Four teams from the Asia Cup will qualify for the 2022 Women’s FIH Hockey World Cup. Eight teams, China, India, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore, South Korea and Thailand are in the fray in Muscat.

India, the Tokyo Olympic Games semi-finalists, will be favourites to clinch one of the four World Cup spots from the Asia Cup with Japan, South Korea, and China, and Malaysia fighting for the remaining three.

In the men’s hockey World Cup championships will start this week with the Pan American Cups in Sants competition at the Pan American Cups, reigning champions Argentina (FIH World Ranking: 7) will face some stiff competition from Canada (WR: 11), who will be looking to build on the experiences gained at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020. They will also find Chile (WR: 29) eager to repeat the feat their junior national side achieved at the Junior Pan American Championships when they won the competition and became the first team to beat Argentina in the process.

Lucas Rey, 2016 Olympic gold medallists and head coach of the Argentina side who won a gold medal at the Junior World Cup, says it will be an exciting competition because so much is at stake. “It is a very important competition because it allows a team to qualify for the World Cup. Argentina is making some changes and there are a few players who will be playing for the senior team for the first time,” Lucas Rey was quoted as saying by the FIH in a release.

Of the opposition who could steal Argentina’s hockey World Cup championships will start this week with the Pan American Cups in Sants thunder, Rey says Canada have a very strong, experienced and talented side. In the interview, which can be seen in full here, Rey said that there was also a strong challenge coming from the other South American team in the competition – Chile.

“Chile, in particular, is really improving. They have quite a few players who play in Europe so they are bringing new experiences back to the national team,” he said.

For Rey, increased competition can only be a good thing. “It is similar to Oceania,” he says, “where Australia and New Zealand are far ahead of the other teams in the region. To improve as a team, you need regular, strong competition, so it is good for everyone if teams like Chile and Peru challenge the higher-ranked nations.”

Eight teams line up to contest the competition with a coveted qualification spot at the FIH Odisha Hockey Men’s hockey World Cup championships will start this week with the Pan American Cups in Sants World Cup 2023 Bhubaneswar and Rourkela at stake.

Joining the three aforementioned teams will be USA (WR:23), Mexico (WR:30), Brazil (WR:33), Trinidad and Tobago (WR:37), and Peru (WR: 42)

in the women’s competition, Rey says the team to beat will be the all-conquering Argentina. Las Leonas have not been beaten in this competition since it began in 2001. In the last edition, which took place in 2017 in Lancaster USA, Argentina beat Chile by a convincing 4-1 scoreline in the final.

As with the men’s competition, however, Rey says there are teams who can definitely challenge Argentina’s hold on the event. “There has been a lot of investment into the Chile team and Uruguay has the benefit of a new national artificial turf, the first in the country.

“The Argentina side have a few big changes, so it is time for the players to show they are ready to be there. It is time to shine and perform,” he was quoted as saying by FIH in a release on Tuesday.

Joining Argentina (WR:3) will be Canada (WR:13), the USA (WR:15), Chile (WR:19), Uruguay (WR:26), Peru (WR:32), and Trinidad and Tobago (WR:46).

The challenge is likely to come from one of the North American teams. The USA is looking to bounce back after a period in the doldrums.No Olympic action and a hugely disrupted FIH Hockey Pro League campaign – due to Covid travel restrictions – has limited Anthony Farry’s ability to really push his team. This could be the USA’s chance to get back to winning ways.

Canada is another side that would like to kick-start their upward trajectory. They also failed to qualify for the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 and would like nothing more than to get onto the higher ranks of the podium. Anything higher than a third-place finish would be the best result for Canada in this competition.

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