Jan 30, 2012

India's opponent in Olympics Qualifiers: Canada

All onus on captain Ken Pereira on Olympics Qualifiers

February 15, 2011 will kick start most important event for Indian hockey, the Olympics Qualifiers. After failing to qualify for the last Olympics, Indian team faces quite an easy task this time. Here is a look at India’s competition in Olympics Qualifiers.

The only country that can stop India's smooth journey to London Olympics is world number 14, Canada. Canada which is ranked second in the six team pool last played in 2000 Sydney Olympics and would not like to miss Olympics this time.
The Field Hockey Canada has selected an experienced team for upcoming Olympics Qualifiers led by midfielder Ken Pereira who at the age of 38 is the most experienced player of the team with nearly 350 caps to his name. Canadian coach Robin D'Abreo is hoping to qualify for the Olympics but is also awae of the challenges which lie ahead for the team.

The recent performance of the Canadian team has been mixed in international with the team winning silver medal in the PAN American Games held in October (losing to Argentina in finals) and then finishing in last position (eighth) in Champions Challenge held in December. The performance in Champions Challenge was very dissapointing where they managed to win only one game.

The Canadian team selected has decent experience which will come in handy in the Olympics Qualifiers. If Canada has to qualify then the experienced players will have to bring their A game. As done in the past, Team Canada will again rely on the experience of captain Ken Pereira and striker Sukhwinder (Gabbar) Singh. A lot of responsibility and pressure will also be on the penalty corner expert Scott Tupper after he failed to shine in Champions Challenge.

Looking at the competition in Olympics Qualifiers, Canada will have easy ride till the finals, but where they will face much better Indian team and if go by the recent form of both the teams, it will be a cakewalk for the Indian team. The game will also be important for the hockey relations between both the teams. The relations between India an Canada cannot be termed friendly after the 1995 Olympics Qualifiers where a nil-nil draw between India and Malaysia  robbed Canada a chance to play in 1996 Atlanta Olympics and Canada accused India of match fixing. This Olympics Qualifiers provides Canada a chance to take the revenge of 1995 Olympics Qualifiers, the question that arises is can they break the shackles and do it?

Following is the Canadian (men) team for Olympics qualifiers:

Goalkeepers: Antoni Kindler and David Carter
Defenders: Adam Froese, Richard Hildreth, Scott Sandisan, Hudson Stewart, Jesse Watson and Scott Tupper
Midfielders: Jagdish Gill, David Jameson, Ken Pereira (C) and Rob Short
Forwards: Gabriel Ho-Garcia, Mark Pearson, Sukhwinder (Gabbar) Singh, Iain Smythe, Devohn Teixeira and Phillip Wright.

Coach: Robin D'Abreo

Canada will play their first game on 18th against 41st rank Singapore.

Check out the schedule of Olympics Qualifiers by clicking here

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