Close on the heels of the inaugural Hockey India League (HIL), India is ready to host another event, Round 2 of the Hockey World League (HWL), which will serve as a qualifying competition for next year’s World Cup to be held at The Hague, The Netherlands.
This new event, floated by the International Hockey Federation (FIH) for men and women, will be held over a two-year cycle. For the first cycle, which started in August last and would continue till February 2014, the event would be the qualifier for the World Cup and over the next two-year period it would become the qualifying competition for the Olympics.
Several teams, which took part in Round 1, have qualified for the next round, while the sides ranked between ninth and 16th in the world get the chance to directly play in Round 2. Eight teams from four Round 2 events (to be played on single pool round robin format) will be eligible to participate in Round 3 (which will have two pools of four teams each followed by the classification matches).
The eight top ranked sides in the world will get a bye to play in the two third round events, which will serve as the semifinals.
The best six finishers in the semifinals will make it to the World Cup or the Olympics. The host nation and five continental champions will complete the remaining slots.
The top eight teams from the HWL semifinals will be eligible to take part in the final (which will follow the format of Round 3).
Some of the teams which have come through Round 1 will be seen in action during the Round 2 competition for men and women to be held here from February 18 to 24.
Teams like Ireland, Bangladesh, Oman and Fiji have qualified from the first round of the men’s competition. India, ranked 11th, and China have made it directly.
Among the women’s teams, Malaysia, Kazakhstan, Russia and Fiji have advanced from the opening round. India, ranked 12th, and Japan (9th) are the sides to get a bye.
Even as some teams arrived on Tuesday, the Indian women’s side began its preparations under the watchful eyes of coach Neil Hawgood.
Hawgood said in an event involving lesser known teams, the host had to focus on improving its own game. “We are moving in the right direction. We can worry about ourselves than others.”
Hawgood said the players needed to work on various aspects of their game in order to improve the performance.
Meanwhile, Indian men’s team coach Michael Nobbs allowed the players to recover from the fatigue of the gruelling HIL. However, the coach along with two other support staff took time out to put drag-flicker Gurjinder Singh, who was not part of the HIL, through some fitness drills.
The visiting teams will start their training here from Wednesday.
Keywords: Hockey World League