Hockey: Why the Commonwealth Games might not be Scotland’s top priority this summer

The Scots train at Fettes, where they focus on attack. They have a very busy summer ahead. Photo: Nigel Duncan

Only days after the end of the Games in Birmingham, Scotland opens its account in the qualifying group D of the EuroHockey Championship in Dunkirk, France. An even greater challenge perhaps.

Duncan, who is director of hockey at the Edinburgh Academy, feels he has a lot of work to do with the team in a very short time.

Scotland open their Commonwealth Games schedule on Friday July 29 against South Africa and 24 hours later they face New Zealand.

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Scotland head coach Chris Duncan knows his side have a huge summer ahead of them, with little time to prepare. Photo: Nigel Duncan

It’s Kenya v Scotland on Monday August 1st with Australia v Scotland on Wednesday August 3rd.

The 9/10 and 7/8 ladder matches will take place on Friday August 5 with the semi-final also on the same day. The bronze medal game and the final will take place on Sunday August 8th.

Duncan explained: “It’s good to have a target and an objective to hit because it keeps everyone focused, but that first whistle will be on us before we know it.”

The team had a difficult day in the capital last weekend at Fettes College and Duncan said: “It’s difficult during the domestic season to bring the players together and have some quality time.

“We try to do a lot in the days we have and we had a really good block. We worked on our attacking game and what we do when we have the ball.

“Now we will focus on what we do without the ball and how we defend as we get closer to the game.”

April is a busy month for the team with three games against Ireland and five against Wales.

The European Championship qualifiers from August 24-27, when Scotland take on France, Switzerland and Austria. Only the winner qualifies for the championship proper and there is a lot at stake.

Duncan added: “The way our research cycle works, the European qualifier is perhaps the most important tournament.

“From a coaching and training perspective, it’s about keeping people fresh. We don’t want to go to the Europeans without any energy.

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