Grand Masters chase European success in Belgium
Whilst the Scotland senior men’s and women’s teams are competing in the FIH Series finals, four of our more ‘experienced’ national teams along with two Thistles teams will be taking part in their European Championships and Trophy Tournament in Antwerp, Belgium from 19th to 29th June.
Scotland will have national teams competing at O60, O65 and O70 in the men’s competition along with an O60 team in the women’s event. The Thistles will be competing at O60 and O65 in the Trophy Tournament.
The O60’s finished the recent 4 Nations in Aberdeen in strong form having held England to a 1-1 draw and go into their event with some confidence. As with all the age groups though, they face a tough ask to qualify for the semi-finals. Their first match against Netherlands is followed the following day with a match up against Spain who beat the Scots 1-0 in the World Cup quarter final last year in Spain. After a rest day, the O60 then face a strong Irish squad who have beaten the Scots in both the Celtic Cup and 4 Nations already this year and will have an eye on the semi-final place themselves. The O60 finish their pool matches against an improving Italian side who will be looking to make up for their defeat in the 2017 Europeans in Glasgow.
Coach Adam McInnes has a strong O60 squad though and a semi-final place will be their target. Good performances in key games could see them achieve it.
In the O65’s competition there are nine teams with one group of five and the other of four teams. Scotland have ended up in the pool of four and face our Celtic friends Wales in their first match. The Welsh have benefited from a number of ‘promotions’ from their O60 squad and beat Scotland in the Celtic Cup soundly by 6-1. A stronger and more determined Scotland side took their revenge in Aberdeen winning that fixture by 2-1 so this first match is looking like a cracker to start. A good start against Wales for Ian Wilson’s side will set them up for their next game against the hosts Belgium which could see a semi-final place in their grasp before their final group match against Netherlands.
The top two in the group play again with the pool match result and the play off taken to decide first and second place for the semi-finals.
Due to injuries and unavailability, the O70 team travel to Belgium with a smaller (in number rather than stature) squad than they would have liked. They will however have been heartened by their progress in their competitions this year under coach Sandy Keith. The O70’s have a tough draw with a small squad facing Germany in their first match before taking on the might of the Netherlands the next day before facing Ireland in their final group match. With good results so far this year against the Irish (two wins) the Scots will be looking to get a result against the Germans to try and gain a semi-final place.
Having lifted the bronze medal at the World Championships in Barcelona last year the O60 women’s team will be looking to at least medal again in the Europeans.
The squad which boasts players from 60 to 76 play in a four competition in which most of the teams have a ‘slightly’ lower age profile. Scotland face Wales, who are fielding a team for the first time, in their first match where Liz Pettigrew’s charges will be looking to get a fast start.
The Scots then play the Netherlands who they beat last year in Spain for the bronze medal in a cracking match before they finish their pool against World Champions, England. With the top two teams playing off for the gold medal, the Scots will be keen to go at least one better than last year.
Thistles will be looking to repeat their excellent performances in the O60 World Cup Tournament Trophy last year at O60 level and reach the final of the European version. While they may be too strong for Alliance in their first game, a match up with England LX who beat them 3-0 in Aberdeen will provide an early opportunity to reverse that result. Their final game against Germany could set them up for a semi-final place.
The Thistles O65 make their debut at this year’s Europeans showing the increasing demand for tournament hockey at this age. A really tough group awaits them with matches against the Australian touring side, Southern Cross Blue followed by Argentina and Germany before they play their last match against England LX.
It is undoubtedly a success that Scotland is fielding six teams in this year’s European Competition and all the teams, like their senior counterparts later in the summer, will be looking to bring home medals.
Results from the various events can be found from the 19th June here.
For further information please visit http://www.scotlandlx.org.uk/2019/2019EuropeanCup/2019EuropeanCup.shtml
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