Wednesday, December 6, 2023

Hockey Pro League: China has ‘so much potential’ – Annan

England women were served advanced warning that China will be no pushovers when the sides next meet at the Women’s World Cup in July.

England women suffered a 3-1 defeat in the FIH Hockey Pro League, following a 1-1 draw on Saturday where China took the extra point after a 4-3 shoot-out win.

England meet China in their final World Cup Pool B match in Amstelveen on July 7 following matches with New Zealand and India.

“I think this team has so much potential,” Alyson Annan, who has been working with the China team, told Chinese media.

“They are going be a really good team. They work hard. They fight hard. Their technical skills are incredible next to the best teams in the world. I think we can do a lot.

“China is a team with a lot of potential. I have coached a team [the Netherlands] for the last five years to the best. And now I’m coaching a team [China] to be the best and that’s a great challenge.”

Grace Balsdon had given England a first quarter lead with a penalty corner, but China were level by half-time thanks to a Bingfeng Gu penalty stroke. Goals in each of the third and fourth quarters from Xindan Zhang and Yang Chen handed the visitors three points.

Shona McCallin played her first game since Tokyo Olympics, while England will now welcome back several Tokyo stars, Anna Toman and Maddie Hinch, for their other Pro League matches.

Earlier, England men won their second game in two days with another fine performance against France.

Having won 5-4 in the last minute on Saturday, Nick Bandurak scored twice on his home debut before David Condon and Sam Ward gave England breathing space. Timothee Charlet had briefly given France hope at 3-1.

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