Hockey: Stiff trial for youth policy faces England

Click to follow
The Independent Online
HOCKEY IS due to make its debut in the Commonwealth Games here tomorrow, with England's women starting their campaign against New Zealand, Scotland playing the firm favourities for the title, Australia, and Wales taking on South Africa.

It is a splendid opportunity for all three teams to feature in a major competition in which England and Scotland both should reach the semi finals. And for England it is an opportunity to make amends for their terrible World Cup performance earlier this year, finishing ninth in Utrecht.

England also have Wales and South Africa, who finished above them in the World Cup, in the same pool, which is completed by Canada and Namibia, who have come in as late replacements for Sri Lanka.

Scotland have been drawn in the easier pool. Though world and Olympic champions Australia should walk away with it, the Scots' semi-final prospects hinge on beating India.

If England are to return home with a medal they need to top their group with wins against New Zealand and South Africa to avoid Australia in the semi-finals. They should be capable of beating both. Succeed and the youth policy of coach Maggie Souyave will have paid great dividends. Fail, and her critics will have a field day.

The England strikers Mandy Nicholson and Tina Cullen are back from injury and will add their experience to the treble Olympians Karen Brown, who has been appointed captain, and Jane Sixsmith.

Scotland rely on the same squad as in Utrecht, while Wales will be captained by Lynda Watkin.