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FIH Hockey Olympic Qualifiers Valencia & Ranchi 2024: what the teams have to say!

Lausanne, Switzerland: With just one day to go till the start of the FIH Hockey Olympic Qualifiers in Valencia and Ranchi, the coaches and captains have spoken to express their expectations from the event and what their teams will be aiming to achieve over the next two weeks.

Ranchi 

Janneke Schopman, Head Coach (India)

“Playing in the Qualifier poses significant challenges and of course puts pressure on the players to perform. However, our team will prepare well and are aware of the stakes involved. The fact that the tournament is taking place in Ranchi, where we recently played and won the Women’s Asian Champions Trophy in front of an amazing home crowd, adds another dimension. The fans have helped the team and built a strong connection with them, the players will use their support to deliver and perform to our potential.” 

Valentin Altenburg, Head Coach (Germany)

“The whole team feels deeply thankful for the special welcome at the airport and at the stadium here in Ranchi. For most of us it’s the first time in India and we are impressed by the warm hearts all around us. We are looking forward to our test match against our friends from India. And we will then prepare for the start of the tournament against Chile and Japan, who we both played this summer.“ 

Andres Mondo, Head Coach (Italy)

“We are excited and honoured to participate in the qualifying tournament for the Paris Olympic Games. We are currently in 19th place in the world ranking and aware that we will face very strong teams, many of which are above us in the world ranking; after intense preparation and playing some friendly matches, our expectations are to be competitive: we want to play on an equal footing with all our opponents, to demonstrate on the pitch the hard work we have done.”

Yuri Nagai, Captain (Japan)

“Returning to Ranchi is a pleasure for us. Among the Asian representatives, Japan and India are the sole contenders in this tournament. We hold optimistic expectations for both nations’ performances, aiming for success in this event.” 

Phil Burrows, Head Coach (New Zealand)

“Our preparations have been thorough, having faced off against the USA and Malaysia before entering this tournament. As we gear up for the Olympic qualifiers, our focus now shifts to the upcoming practice match against Chile and the crucial opening encounter against Italy,”

Sergio Vigil, Head Coach (Chile)

“We have young players, slightly more experienced players and very special veteran players. We have Captains who are very young but experienced as well, so they tick every box. We are here to create history and we are confident Chile will book a spot for Paris here in India, which is a special country for me.”

Katerina Lacina, Captain (Czech Republic)

“Our training regimen was centered on enhancing our physical prowess, a crucial aspect of our game. Additionally, we engaged in valuable preparation games against France, Ukraine, and the Netherlands’ U21 side. With the squad boasting several young talents, our strategy revolves around a dynamic, physical style of play coupled with top-level hockey to showcase our team’s strength and skill on the field. We are here to fight and compete and we believe we can make it to the Paris Olympics.” 

David Passmore, Head Coach (USA)

“Overall, it’s still quite a young squad in terms of caps, and age, but it’s also a really exciting squad. We have some great young players and thankfully we have a few players who have played in this environment before in Olympic Qualifiers. So, it’s a real mixture and blend. We have gelled really well over the last six months as a group, which is most important. We have a great deal of self-belief. If we play our best, we can beat everyone. We need to take it one game at a time.”

Valencia (Women)

Raoul Ehren, Head Coach (Belgium)

“We are looking forward to playing the Qualifier in Valencia. We prepared really well and are ready to perform at our best level.” 

Ed Barney, Hockey Performance Director (Great Britain)

“We are delighted to get the matches started at the Olympic Qualifiers. Off the back of the European Championships, we’ve had a great training block over the autumn with fixtures at Bisham Abbey, on the road in Europe and with our recent Pro League fixtures in Argentina. Muscat and Valencia are two exceptional venues and I know many players and staff have fond memories of competing in Valencia and we know Muscat will offer a fantastic tournament setting. The squads and staff are ready to get started and grasp the opportunity and thrive on the international stage.” 

Danny Kerry, Head Coach (Canada)

“We understand that on ranking, and historically we are underdogs in the tournament. We also know that we will be well prepared, tactically and physically ready for the Games ahead and very together as a team. We have a small nucleus of players who understand the nature of Olympic Qualifier tournaments, and understand how to leverage that experience. Equally we have a vibrant energetic group itching to get going and looking forward to the tournament.”

Katie Mullan, Captain (Ireland) 

“We’re very much focussed on ourselves and taking one game at a time. Our eyes are focussed on the Belgium opener and it’s going to be a fantastic game. We left no stone unturned , our preparation has been second to none.”

Yana Vorushylo, Captain (Ukraine)

“We are fortunate to come to Valencia and play the Olympic Qualifier. We are fortunate to be able to play our favourite sport without hearing air alerts. Olympics is the biggest sport event on the planet for the strongest athletes who respect human and sport values. Slava Ukraini!”

Carlos García Cuenca, Head Coach (Spain)

“The ability to manage moments of maximum tension is going to be decisive, as well as being able to develop our game. We arrived in a very good moment of form, with the players with full confidence, and we have achieved our sporting objectives in terms of the game model that we had set for ourselves.”

Valencia (Men)

Felix Denayer, Captain (Belgium)

“The Olympics are the pinnacle of our sport. We understand the importance of this challenging tournament. We are well prepared and fully focused to earn a ticket for Paris 2024.” 

Robin Rösch, Head Coach (Austria)

“Spirit in the team is great. Everyone is very focused and has prepared well. That’s exactly the mindset we need to travel to Valencia. I think that’s important in order to successfully qualify for the Olympics. We have a difficult group, with Spain as clear favourites. This time we don’t just have one game that decides about qualification – as in the past. We therefore have to act as a team and make sure that we move forward and improve from game to game. We need a very steep learning curve. And I have absolute confidence in my newly formed team to do that. If Austria goes to the Olympics, it would be an absolute sensation.”

Mark Tumilty, Head Coach (Ireland) 

“It’s definitely a tournament that offers a stiff competition. No route to an Olympics was ever going to be easy”. 

Alvaro Iglesias, Captain (Spain)

“We are mentally prepared and with a tremendous desire to get started. The key is to be together at all times. In the games there will be moments when everything will go very well and it is very easy to play, but in others we will suffer and in those moments is when, if we are together, we will go far”

The FIH Hockey Olympic Qualifiers will take place in Valencia (13-21 January), Ranchi (13-19 January) and Muscat (15-21 January). For more information about the qualifiers and the upcoming Olympic Games Paris 2024, visit Olympics.Hockey

-FIH

 

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