Will Chile be too hot to handle in Mexico?

September 11, 2014
Road to Rio: Hockey World League R1 - Men - Guadalajara (MEX)

This Friday, the men’s Hockey World League Round 1 event in Guadalajara, Mexico gets underway with the host nation (FIH World Ranking: 35) entertaining Pan American rivals Chile (WR: 26), Brazil (WR: 33) and Guatemala (WR: 71). 

The winner of the tournament, which takes place between 12-14 September, is guaranteed a place in the second phase of the competition and will keep hopes of competing at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games very much alive. 

Chile are the top ranked team in the tournament, being the only nation inside the world’s top 30 at 26. They are considered to be tournament favourites, and rightly so if their form in the inaugural edition of the Hockey World League is anything to go by. Chile qualified for the second phase thanks to a strong Round 1 performance in Port of Spain where they finished second behind host nation Trinidad & Tobago in November 2012. Although Chile were eliminated in the Round 2 event in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil , they have been making big strides forward over the past few years. Chile have claimed the Bronze medal at the two most recent Pan American Games (2007 Rio & 2011 Guadalajara) and could well be gunning for Gold in the years ahead. Sebastian Kapsch, Jaime Zarhi and team captain Raimundo Valenzuela all have over 100 caps to their names, while the squad itself is easily the most experienced in the competition with an average over 55 international appearances per player. 

With an international appearances average of 27, Brazil may not have the same level of experience as their Chilean rivals but they will be determined to make a big statement in Guadalajara. Yuri van der Heijden, Matheus Borges and Agusto de Paula Felipe are the most experienced members of the group with 50 caps apiece. The team featured in the inaugural edition of the Hockey World League, competing in the Round 2 event which took place on home soil in Rio de Janeiro. 

Mexico will be keen to make home advantage count and certainly have a squad capable of challenging for a first place finish. 29-year-old Goalkeeper Moises Vargas is the only player to have surpassed the 100 caps mile-stone, although six players - Roberto Garcia, Edgar Garcia (captain), Ricardo Garcia, Pol Moreno, Bruno Peraza and Francisco Aguilar - have all surpassed the 50 caps marker. Aguilar has recent form against Brazil, netting a hat-trick in the 5-8 cross-over classification match at the 2013 Pan American Cup to help his team to a 3-2 victory before they eventually lost their 5-6 Classification match against Chile. 

Although rank outsiders, Guatemala will be looking to gain as much experience as possible from their participation in Guadalajara. Their participation in the Hockey World League comes just two years after the country’s first ever international appearance when the newly formed U-21 men’s team competed in the 2012 Pan American Junior Championships, an event which also took place in Guadalajara. Guatemala’s involvement in this event is a significant milestone for everyone who has worked hard to develop the sport since the Olympic Committee of Guatemala opened the doors to hockey just seven years ago.

You can keep track of the results from Guadalajara on the official tournament microsite, with FIH.CH bringing a full summary of the action upon the completion of the event. The city also plays host to a women’s Hockey World League Round 1 event, with Canada, Mexico, Guatemala and Peru competing between 11-14 September. To keep track of the results from that competition, click here.  

The Hockey World League is tournament that makes the dream of reaching the Rio 2016 Olympic Games a possibility for every hockey playing nation. The second edition of the HWL got underway earlier this year, with the women’s teams of Malaysia and Belarus emerging triumphant at respective Round 1 events in Singapore and Lithuania before Russia men stormed to victory in Croatia in July. 

The winning team at each of the Round 1 events is guaranteed a place in HWL Round 2, where they will be joined by a number of the highest-placed finishers from the Round 1 tournaments. Round 2 will also see the introduction of teams placed 12 to 19 in the FIH World Rankings with the sides ranked 1 to 11 starting their journey in Round 3, where tickets for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games as well as qualification for the Finals tournament are up for grabs.  

More information about the Hockey World League and all of the upcoming events can be found by clicking here.


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