Friday February 1, 2013
Malaysia in tough company for World League semi-finals
By S. RAMAGURU
KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia will have Germany, England, Pakistan and South Korea for company when they host the FIH World League semi-finals from June 29-July 7.
The four teams are automatic qualifiers for the semi-finals based on their FIH world rankings.
Malaysia received an automatic berth after being selected as the host country. The tournament will be held in Johor Baru.
The International Hockey Federation (FIH) confirmed the five teams for the second semi-final yesterday.
The tournament will have eight teams in the fray. Three more teams will be picked after Round Two of the World League.
Holland will host the first semi-final in Rotterdam from June 13-23. The teams who have automatically qualified for Rotterdam are hosts Holland, Australia, Spain and New Zealand. Four more teams will join the fray after Round Two.
The top four teams from each semi-final will then play in the final round and these teams will gain automatic berths to the 2014 World Cup.
Malaysia were initially scheduled to play in Round Two in Elektrostal, Russia, at the end of May. Their place in that tournament will now be taken by the Czech Republic. The other teams are Russia, Japan, Austria, Ukraine and Egypt.
Germany were originally scheduled to host both the men’s and women’s Hockey World League semi-finals as well as the Women’s Junior World Cup (from July 27-Aug 4 in Moenchengladbach). However, they have chosen to host only the Women’s Junior World Cup due to financial restrictions.
As such, Malaysia will now host the men’s Hockey World League semi-final while the women’s event will be hosted by another country.
FIH president Leandro Negre was pleased to have found an alternative host despite the short notice.
“There is not a doubt that the month of June will be historic and fantastic for our sport. I would especially like to thank Malaysia for stepping in to be hosts on short notice. It is further evidence of the spirit of cooperation that we enjoy in international hockey.”
The Hockey World League Round Two recently kicked off with a women’s five-team tournament in Cape Town, South Africa.
Hosts South Africa and Belgium became the first two teams to earn a spot in the Hockey World League semi-final through the qualification process.