Ipswich duo George Pinner and Harry Martin preparing for Hockey World League finals in India
- Credit: Archant
Ipswich Olympians George Pinner and Harry Martin begin their quest for 2014 international glory with England, in the hockey hotbed of India, on Friday.
The former Ipswich School duo face a tantalising tie against the hosts in their first game of the Hockey World League Finals, before matches against Germany and New Zealand on Saturday and Monday respectively.
Goalkeeper Pinner, 26, and midfielder Martin, 21, will face a hostile reception in New Delhi in front of a frenzied and fanatical home support and will be determined to keep their eyes on the ball ahead of the World Cup and Commonwealth Games later this year.
Pinner celebrates his birthday on January 18, the same day as the final, but the former Suffolk county player believes a good team performance throughout would provide the perfect birthday gift.
“While this tournament is big in terms of competition, it is not one that determines our qualification for any event,” said Pinner, who watched as a reserve as Great Britain team-mate Martin played at the 2012 London Olympics.
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“When we play in tournaments we always want to win medals but we have not played a game together as a squad since the EuroHockey Nations Championship (last August) so the focus will be on improving as individuals and as a team ahead of the World Cup and Commonwealth Games.”
Germany, England and New Zealand are ranked first, fourth and fifth in the world respectively, while India are ranked 11th and will be banking on some vociferous home support to see them progress from pool A.
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“It should be a great game against India, especially in the opener, as they are really well supported and their fans create a great atmosphere,” Pinner added.
Australia face the Netherlands, Belgium and Argentina in pool B and the eight-team event features two round-robin pools of four followed by quarter-finals, semi-finals, classification and medal matches.