This country’ senior men and women’s hockey team will begin their quest towards qualification for the 2016 Rio de Janeiro, Olympic Games in Brazil when the second edition of the International Hockey Federation (FIH) World League continues with one of its first round world qualifying tournaments in Kingston, Jamaica from September 30 to October 5.
The tournament will be contested at the newly laid synthetic pitch at Mona Campus, New Kingston, Jamaica with host Jamaica, Barbados, Dominican Republic, Venezuela and Puerto Rico women competing for the lone available spot to round two in Montevideo, Uruguay from February 28-March 8, next year.
Two years, the national women’s team reached as far as round two in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil where they ended in fifth spot in the six-team competition with a 1-4 record.
The “Calypso Stickwomen” lone win came against host Brazil, 3-1 while they were overwhelmed by tournament winners USA (7-0), runner-up Chile (6-0), third placed Scotland (7-0) and Uruguay, 6-1.
In the opening round which was held at the National Hockey Centre, Eastern Regional Sports Complex, Tacarigua, T&T was third behind Canada and Uruguay after hammering neighbours Barbados (7-0), Guyana (5-0) and Venezuela (5-1) for a 3-2 record. The two defeats came against round one winner, Canada (4-0) and runner-up Uruguay, 2-0.
Expected to be coach of the team once more, is former national player Anthony Marcano, who was the helm at the recently concluded Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, Scotland where a very youthful T&T squad was crushed 16 -0 by South Africa, 14-0 both by New Zealand and India, 4-1 by Canada and 4-0 in their tenth placed match against Wales.
.....T&T men favourites to qualify
The national men’s team will be favourites to secure the lone spot available to round two Chula Vista, California, next year (February 28-March 8) when they match sticks with Jamaica, Barbados, Dominican Republic and Venezuela.
However, they will enter the tournament without regular coach Glen “Fido” Francis and England-based ace Kwandwane Browne, who both have work commitments.
Reached for comment, Francis said he has been putting off his promotional courses at the T&T Defence Force because of national team duties for a while now, and it cannot wait any longer.
Despite his absence, Francis, a former national goalkeeper said he expects the team to do well.
“Our squad is a very good one with a great mix of youth and experience and I think the T&T Hockey Board will meet shortly to decide on whether to appoint Andrew Wilson or someone here in T&T as the interim coach.
He added, “Wilson is no stranger to the guys as he worked with them at the recent Commonwealth Games in Scotland, Scotland, and even if he is not selected I am confident in whoever the board decides on.”
At the Commonwealth Games, the locals who were without a few key players had a miserable outing ending in tenth spot after a 2-0 loss at the hands of Wales in their playoff.
Earlier in their round-robin group, T&T was also beaten by England (6-1), New Zealand (8-0) and Canada (3-1) before recording a first ever win at the Games, 4-2 over the higher ranked Malaysia.
When the inaugural World League competition was held two years ago, T&T flicked off its round one campaign on home soil in fine style by ending its four-team round-robin series after victories over Chile (2-1), Barbados (3-1) and Venezuela (9-2) at Tacarigua.
However, the second phase in Rio de Janeiro proved much more challenging as T&T suffered losses against Argentina (9-2), South Africa (10-2) and Chile (0-4) but won against Brazil (6-2) and USA, 4-3 via a penalty stroke.