Junior Green Army find out new World Cup group
Ireland’s Under-21 women’s team will meet England, hosts South Africa and Ukraine in a reshuffled Junior World Cup group following a number of changes to the tournament line-up.
The Junior Green Army were originally due to play in the competition in Potchefstroom in December but it was put on hold due to the arrival of the Omicron variant but they can now put full focus on the tournament which runs from April 2nd to 13th in Potchefstroom’s North-West University.
“It’s great news that the Junior World Cup will go ahead after the late postponement in December,” said Irish head coach David Passmore of confirmation of the line-up and that the tournament will go ahead in a full 16-team format.
“The girls were devastated so we are indebted to the clubs for accommodating this through changes in EY Hockey League schedule along with Hockey Ireland and the FIH for striving to find solutions to the scheduling issues.
“While we have started to train with the same group of 20, each player knows the last selection was made on form and that they will need to maintain form to make the plane for South Africa.
“Given how hard the girls had worked in preparation for December and the uncertainty of whether Covid would allow for the event to proceed, they have had a six-week break but now we start to crank things up to perform at our best.”
In terms of form guides, the Junior Green Army impressed last summer with a series win over the Welsh senior team and against the Great Britain Development panel.
They also drew with England in December in a hastily arranged Four Nations tournament in Valencia, organised once the World Cup was put on hold. South Africa and Ukraine, though, will be new opposition at this level.
Ireland had originally been due to face the Netherlands, Zimbabwe and Korea in the opening group but a number of changes to the tournament line-up meant a reshuffle in opposition.
Since December, Belgium, Spain and Japan decided they could no longer participate with Ukraine, Malaysia and Wales the nations stepping in to take their place at the main event.
And coach Passmore says it makes for some new challenges compared to the ones originally envisaged.
“The trip to Spain in December highlighted some areas we need to develop and we will be working hard on some specific components with our play with some matches against the seniors, boys teams and a two-match series against England in March to assist with thanks to our main sponsors Uniphar, SoftCo and Park Developments.
“The pool we now face is obviously different from what we expected and provides different challenges in that we know little about South Africa or Ukraine but we know the home nation will present a stern test on home soil.
“Ukraine offer a different style of play to most European countries and can be hard to break down. Either way we will set our standards high and work hard in what is a great and exciting opportunity for those players who play.”
The fixture schedule will be confirmed in due course.
Elsewhere, the Irish senior women’s World Cup opponents will be confirmed on Thursday morning with the International Hockey Federation hosting the draw in Lausanne. It will be broadcast online via the FIH’s Watch-Hockey app.
FIH Women’s Junior World Cup, April 2-13, 2022 (all at NWU, Potchefstroom, South Africa)
Pool A: Canada, Netherlands, USA, Zimbabwe
Pool B: England, Ireland, South Africa, Ukraine
Pool C: Argentina, Korea, Russia, Uruguay
Pool D: Germany, India, Malaysia, Wales