Minnows Uruguay defy FIH rankings in Hockey World League

The women’s Hockey World League Round 1 event in Port of Spain, Trinidad & Tobago,  has gotten  off to a cracking start with a staggering 40 goals being scored in the opening six matches. Table toppers and top seeds Canada (FIH World Ranking: 23) are solely responsible for 22 of those goals thanks to big wins over Venezuela (58) and Guyana (also 58), the two lowest ranked teams in the tournament.

On Sunday, the Canadians showed ruthless efficiency to power to a 12-0 triumph over Venezuela with Brienne Stairs netting four field goals in the contest. A day later, Stairs took her tournament tally to six thanks to a double strike in her team’s 10-0 victory against Guyana, a match which saw eight different players get their names on the score-sheet.

Canada’s explosive start suggests that they will take some stopping in this competition, although a unlikely challenger may come in the shape of Uruguay, a team placed a lowly 50th in the FIH World Rankings.  Unsurprisingly, considered underdogs ahead of the tournament, the South Americans have well and truly destroyed that assumption thanks to two hugely impressive victories over teams ranked far higher than them.  A stunning 8-0 win over 41st ranked Barbados was followed by a brilliant 2-0 win over Trinidad & Tobago, the tournament hosts and 27th best team in the world.  Successive wins over supposedly superior opposition not only puts Uruguay level on points with the free scoring Canadians but will also ensure that they are full of belief when the they face their North American rivals in what could be the title decider on Saturday.

Despite their defeat to Uruguay on Monday, Trinidad & Tobago currently sit third in the league table thanks to Sunday’s 5-0 win over Guyana. Venezuela are fourth in the standings following a 2-1 success, with Guyana again the losing team. Barbados and Guyana occupy the bottom two places in the points table. The three highest finishers at the tournament will earn qualification to Round 2 of the Hockey World League.

The women’s competition resumes today when Barbados face the unenviable task of trying to earn their first points of the tournament against high flying Canada at 0900 (UTC/GMT -4). At 1100, Uruguay will aim to continue their fine form when they take on Guyana before the day’s hockey is completed when Venzuela face Trinidad & Tobago at 1300.

The tournament in Trinidad & Tobago is the fifth Women’s World League Round 1 event to take place this year following competitions in Czech Republic (Prague), Ghana (Accra), Kuantan (Malaysia) and Vienna (Austria). So far, Belarus, Italy, Scotland, Czech Republic, Ghana, Belgium, Russia, Ukraine, Austria, Malaysia and Kazakhstan have already booked their places in the second round of the competition, with three more places up for grabs this coming week. (Pan American Hockey Federation)

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