Ireland Men handed tough Champions Challenge 1 draw

The FIH today announced the schedule for the 2012 Argentina Hockey Men’s Champions Challenge 1, hosted in Quilmes, Argentina from November 24-December 2.  The Irish men have been handed a tough draw as they will face hosts Argentina, South Africa and Japan in the group stages.  A number of Banbridge players will be hoping to make the squad for the trip, with Bruce McCandless and Stephen Dowds definitely in the coaches thoughts and others like Phillip Brown and Drew Carlisle knocking at the door.  Club members Geoff McCabe and Eugene Magee, both currently plying their trade abroad, will also be hoping to make the squad.

The tournament will be the first major FIH event after the 2012 London Games and kicks off the next cycle as teams turn their attention from the Olympics to the 2014 World Cup. Three of the eight teams in the competitive field were in London for the Games. Of the trio, Korea was the highest finisher in London, coming in at eighth place. Argentina and South Africa closed the games in 10th and 11th place, respectively.

The eight-team field will be split into two preliminary round groups of four teams each. In Group A is highest-ranked Korea, which holds down the seventh spot in the FIH World Ranking. They are joined by Malaysia, Canada and Poland. Group B will feature host Argentina as the top-seeded team, ranked 10th in the FIH World Ranking. Challenging Argentina in the group will be South Africa, Ireland and Japan.

All eight teams will move onto a quarterfinal game with the first place finishers taking on the last place finishers from the other groups and the second and third place teams playing in a similar cross-over. From there, the winners will move onto the semi-finals and medal games, while the losers will play for placement.

All eyes are sure to be on the Argentina vs. South Africa preliminary round game on the second day of action. The teams met in the bronze medal game of the 2011 edition of the Champions Challenge 1, which South Africa won, 3-1. Argentina exacted revenge for that loss in London, beating the South Africans 6-3 in the preliminary round.

The Argentina Hockey Men’s Champion’s Challenge 1 will give the teams World Ranking points and the winner of the tournament will be automatically qualified for the next edition of the men’s Champions Trophy.

To view the schedule, please visit the official FIH event page.