The 2011 Champions Challenge is being held in Dublin, Ireland. Some folk have been asking how this tournament affects your chance to qualify for the Olympics and how it affects the teams’ international rankings.
The Champions Challenge is essentially the bottom six ranked teams in the world. The top six nations attend the Champions Trophy tournament. The loser of the Champions Trophy gets relegated to the Champions Challenge tournament and the winner of the Champions Challenge tournament then moves up to the Champions Trophy tournament.
This year the Pools are divided in two: Pool A and Pool B.
At the top of Pool A is South Africa with 4 points, ahead of Scotland who also has 4 points, but the convincing 5-1 for South Africa over Japan has put them at the top of pool A. Japan comes in third with 3 points and USA at the bottom of the pool after two close losses. Japan defeated USA 2-1 despite the USA having many chances in the last minutes of the half. USA’s second loss, 3-1 came versus Scotland after being tied at the half.
Pool B has been full of surprises with the usual field hockey powers not dominating. It appears this years Champions Challenge will be one for the under dogs. The host nation, Ireland leads Pool B with 6 points and two wins over Azerbaijan and India. Azerbaijan is in second standing with 3 points and a win over Spain. In the last two positions of Pool B is Spain and India with 1 point each.
Today is a rest day in Ireland with the teams preparing for the following upcoming matches: Japan vs Scotland; USA vs South Africa; Azerbaijan vs India and Spain vs Ireland.