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Field hockey elite meet in Germany for Beijing warm-up

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08:08 CEST+02:00
Netherlands, Argentina, Germany, Australia, China and Japan will meet in the women's field hockey Champions Trophy starting in Mönchengladbach on Saturday, the last major international tournament before the Beijing Olympics in August.

Australia have won six Champions Trophys and the Netherlands five of the 15 played, with Germany, Argentina, Korea and China sharing the other four. Top-ranked Netherlands is unlikely to add to their tally of wins as they have nine players with less than 10 international matches at this tournament.

Nine top Dutch players are turning out for the Den Bosch and Amsterdam clubs contesting the Dutch premier league final next weekend. Dutch coach Marc Lammers said he would settle for third place.

"We do not have our strongest team here but it is good enough to play nice games. With this team the best result for us is to be third. I don't think we will be in the final with this team," Lammers said.

Germany coach Michael Behrmann underscored the importance of this tournament as preparation for Beijing.

"This tournament is a very important step towards selection for this squad of 18 players and there are three more still under consideration," Behrmann said.

Behrmann favours Australia to win the tournament and shatter the precedent which has seen the winner of the 2000 and 2004 Champions Trophy failing to win the following Olympic Games.

"If I believed that myth we would not bother to go to Beijing if we win this tournament," Behrmann said.

Australia coach Frank Murray disagreed that his team are favourites and has brought 19 players to Moenchengladbach; 16 will go to Beijing. "The pressure on the players for selection and maybe all the pressure distracts them from playing better," he said.

Seung-Jin Yoo, Japan's coach, has a plan to deal with Argentina and Germany as they are all in the same pool at Beijing.

"We will play 80 percent against those teams and keep 20 percent hidden from them," Yoo said.

The first matches of the Champions Trophy on Saturday see Australia play Japan; Netherlands take on Germany and China face Argentina.

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