Hockey World League: Wales aiming to reach Europe's elite

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Hockey: Wales men aiming to join Europe's elite

Wales men's hockey head coach Zak Jones says his team has the potential to reach the top table of European hockey.

This weekend Wales play in the second round of the World League tournament for the first time.

A top-two finish in the eight-team tournament would lift them up the rankings and give them a chance of a first World Cup appearance.

"We've had sides in the past who've been top five or six in Europe," Jones told BBC Wales Sport.

He continued: "This group has the potential to be that too.

"A lot of them have played in the top division at under-21 level, against the likes of Holland and Germany. That's where we aspire to be.

"If we can get there, this group would be up there with the best sides Wales have ever produced."

'These are the teams we have to overcome'

Dan Kyriakides
In January, Dan Kyriakides was selected for the men's Great Britain hockey team for the first time

The World League is a series of tournaments held over a two-year period with the latest edition running from Saturday 11 to Sunday 19 March in Belfast.

Wales - currently ranked 16th in Europe - are in the same group as France, Poland and Scotland.

The final group standings decide the knockout fixtures and the two teams who reach the final will go through to the next round of the World League in London in June.

"Most of the teams [who will be in Belfast] we've played in the past year and beaten," said defender Dan Kyriakides.

The Cardiff & Met player was recently called up to the GB setup and is aiming to become the first Welsh male hockey player to go to an Olympics since 2000.

"We're much fitter now, much stronger, and we're aiming high," he continued.

"We've got an exciting period coming up with the World League, European Championships and hopefully Commonwealth Games.

"So we're getting much better."

Wales's first match is against Poland on Saturday at 12:45 GMT.

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