Champions Trophy hockey starts today | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, June 21, 2008 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, June 21, 2008

Champions Trophy hockey starts today

Five of the top six world ranked men's field hockey teams will meet at the Champions Trophy starting here Saturday in what is the last major international tournament before the Olympic Games.
Joining Germany, Australia, Netherlands, Spain and South Korea will be seventh-ranked Argentina, who failed to qualify for Beijing.
Sixth-ranked Pakistan was relegated from this tournament, which it inaugurated in 1978, replaced by Argentina, winner of the 2007 Champions Challenge.
Olympic champion Australia has problems with three key players - Brent Livermore, Aaron Hopkins and Nathan Eglington - injured and possibly unavailable for Beijing.
Australia coach Barry Dancer sees this as an opportunity for younger players to seek Olympic selection.
"While team success will be the overall objective for the team, the Champions Trophy also presents itself as an excellent stage for individual players to step up and show the coaches they deserve a spot in the final Olympic squad," Dancer said.
Dancer's view is echoed by Germany coach Markus Weise who is without injured star striker Christopher Zeller, and by Maurits Hendriks, the Spain coach.
"I will nominate my team after the Champions Trophy so it is really essential for my players to give a high quality performance to improve their chances of securing a place in the final squad," Weise said.
“Obviously we will use the matches to play different systems and try out some players that still have a chance to make the final Olympic team," Hendriks said.
"We will be giving play time to all 18 players and work with them on their individual goals," Hendriks added.
With Beijing only six weeks away, teams cannot peak in Rotterdam and expect to peak again in Beijing.
"We aren't intending to peak here, it's not the ideal time to achieve the best results, but once on the field we'll play to win," said Roelant Oltmans, the Netherlands coach.
Jeroen Delmee, the Netherlands captain, does not want to win the Champions Trophy.
"In fact it would be better if we didn't win the Champions Trophy," Delmee said.
"In the past it's happened all too often that after winning the Champions Trophy we performed badly at another big tournament."
Spain has higher ambitions for the tournament.
"Spain will be aiming for a top three finish as playing so close to the Olympics it is important to look for a maximum result," Hendriks said.
Dancer and Hendriks see this tournament as a training opportunity to settle combinations and styles of play while playing against top level opponents.
"The team is in full preparation for Beijing and will be looking to improve on key aspects of the game, like increasing passing tempo, capitalizing on turnovers, and finalizing pressure systems," Hendriks said.
"Playing against some of the top contenders for Olympic medals we will need to be mentally tough and competitive - it's a good test for Beijing," Hendriks added.
"Firstly we are looking to develop our mental toughness and our competitive pressure in what will be a high pressure event," Dancer said.
"The tournament will also allow us to further develop our team understanding while also giving us an opportunity to develop form and confidence amongst the group as we expose ourselves to some quality opposition," Dancer added.
Host coach Roelant Oltmans recognizes his players are influenced by the desire to win at home and it may be the deciding factor which gives Netherlands the title at this tournament, against the wishes of captain Jeroen Delmee.
"You can try to direct everything but if these sixteen players want to go for it, they should - we're playing at home, nothing beats playing well in front of your own public," Oltman's said.

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