Hockey: Ireland back in World Cup

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The Independent Online
WORLD CUP fever is once again gripping Dublin with the 12 leading women's squads lining up for the eighth Waterford Crystal World Cup which starts today at Belfield, writes Bill Colwill.

England, the reigning European champions, are drawn in the same group as the defending champions, the Netherlands, and the Olympic silver medallists, Germany, and play their first game tomorrow against the United States, with China the opponents on Friday. Nothing short of two convincing wins will suffice before they tackle the Germans and the Dutch. With all three teams worthy of semi-final places, the going will be tough.

England's defence and midfield looked good in a practice game against Korea, but although they created many scoring chances they lost 1-0 to a breakaway goal. Their coach, Sue Slocombe, was far from despondent after the game, although she admitted: 'It would be nice to ice the cake with goals. The squad have stepped up a gear several times during their preparations. We must now step up one more and start scoring goals.'

It is to be hoped that Slocombe will give England the luxury of three strikers tomorrow, rather than the two she played against Korea.