Azerbaijan await Scotland in Challenge quarter-finals
Scotland progressed unbeaten through the pool stages of
the FIH Champions Challenge against higher ranked teams South
Africa, United States and Japan to finish in second place, but
tomorrow`s quarter final tie against Azerbaijan heralds the start
of the real business end of the competition.
“It will be like a starting a new tournament when we play
Azerbaijan today, and anything can happen. They have
strengths that we will have to deal with, but I know they will be
worried about what we can bring to the game,” said Head Coach
Arguably this is the pivotal game of the entire tournament for
the players, as victory would cascade them into the semi-finals
with a guaranteed top four final placing, while defeat would see
the Scots playing off for places five to eight.
Scotland last played Azerbaijan in the European Nations
Championships in 2009 and lost 3-1, so Shepherd can have no
illusions about the task ahead. In addition, the Eastern
Europeans have a reputation for a high standard of fitness and a
robust style of play.
However, there is a buoyant mood in the Scotland camp and the
draw with Japan on Tuesday has enhanced it:
“It was a good controlled performance and I was delighted the
way the girls played the game. It`s a long time since we have
taken something from a top ten ranked nation,” Shepherd
While Scotland`s fortunes seem to be on the way up, those of
Azerbaijan seem to have plummeted. Whilst they beat Spain 2-1 in
their opening encounter, they lost by the same score to Ireland,
and were comprehensively beaten 6-1 by India to finish third in
their pool. But Shepherd will not be influenced by such an
apparent drop in form, and a semi-final place is the carrot for
both sides in this one-off encounter in Dublin.
Tomorrow’s match starts at 3.00pm and you can follow action live
online via Hook Hockey website.
For more information about the competition, including fixtures,
results and pool standings, please visit the FIH Champions Challenge website.
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