Bhubaneswar, 5 December 2014: As the much awaited 35th edition of the Hero Men’s Champions Trophy 2014 is all set to commence fromtomorrow, 6 December 2014 at the Kalinga Stadium, Bhubaneswar, all the 8-participating teams are entirely geared up to exhibit their finest game-skills on the field and put up their best show at the tournament.
The inaugural match of the tournament will be played between the last edition’s Gold medallist – Australia and Barry Middleton led-England, both of which are placed in Pool A alongside Pakistan and Belgium. With the highest number of medals, a total of 27, at the Men’s Hockey Champions Trophy, Australia is the most successful team of the tournament. In the last season played at Melbourne, Australia, the hosts defeated Netherlands 2-1 to bag the title, which was their 13th gold at the Men’s Hockey Champions Trophy. England has a lone medal finish, silver, in the 2010 Men’s Hockey Champions Trophy played at Mönchengladbach, Germany. Australia also at the moment enjoys the apex spot in the FIH’s Men’s World Ranking where the England Men’s Hockey Team features at number 5 in the roll.
While the current world champions Australia are in the best of spirits and will be looking to continue their winning streak, England is not behind in preparations and groundwork for the impending tough clash between the two and will be aiming at a decent finish in the play-offs. Going by the past records, the two teams have been at odds thrice in the last couple of years where Australia has won two out of three matches. The two teams had their first head-on of the most recent two years in the Hero Hockey World League 2014 where the mighty Kookaburras posted a 2-1 win over England. Next, in the Rabobank Hockey World Cup 2014, England was blanked 5-0 by Australia in a league match. The two teams again met in the semi-finals of the XX Commonwealth Games 2014 where Australia drubbed England 4-1 and later went on to post a golden finish at the Glasgow games.
Speaking ahead of the opening match against England, Australian Captain Eddie Ockenden said, “This is a fantastic tournament and everything is important about this championship. We will be playing England in the first match and it’s going to be a really tough game. We are a strong team and will try and play the best that we can and win the first match. And then we’ll gradually move on from there to the next game and so on and will aim at getting better every day. Our team is very strong and we always ensure that we come into a tournament with our best team. We are looking forward to some exciting clashes from tomorrow.”
Ahead of his team’s first game, Australia Coach Graham Reid said, “After a successful practice match against Argentina yesterday, the boys are all ready to take on England tomorrow. The tournament is going to be tough and the team will be playing their best with all their efforts to win this championship for the sixth time in a row.”
Commenting on the first match with the World Champions, Captain of England Barry Middleton said, “We are expecting a good game against Australia tomorrow as they are one of the toughest opponents in this championship. We are ready for the challenge and I am confident that we will deliver and have the results in our favour. We have trained hard and will be employing our game strategies and variations during the match opposite Australia.”
On his team’s upcoming clash against Australia, England Coach Bobby Crutchley said, “We are looking forward to the game against Australiatomorrow. It will be interesting to see how the team has changed since the World Cup and also we’ll be attempting to implement all that we have practiced till now. The boys are all fit and we have also had some light practice sessions today.”
The first match of the Hero Men’s Champions Trophy 2014 will be telecasted live on Ten Sports at 1200hrs IST on 6 December 2014