Hockey World League: Scotland's Alan Forsyth dares to dream of World Cup

Alan Forsyth
Alan Forsyth is the youngest player to win 50 caps for Scotland
Men's Hockey World League semi-final - 2018 World Cup qualifier
Venue: Lee Valley Hockey Centre, London Dates: 15-25 June
Coverage: BBC Sport website and updates on BBC Radio Scotland

Striker Alan Forsyth says Scotland will relish facing some of the world's top teams in London in the next week.

The Blue Sticks are contesting their first ever World League semi-final, having defied their modest world ranking to reach the Lee Valley event.

The Scots - coached by Alan's father Derek - play India, the Netherlands, Pakistan and Canada in Pool B.

"We play hockey to play against the best so it's a great opportunity for us," Forsyth, 25, told BBC Scotland.

"We do have a tough group but we're now at that level where, whatever team you get, it's going to be a tough game.

"That's why they are all in the top 13 teams in the world."

The Hockey World League semi-final in London features 10 teams and precedes the second semi-final in Johannesburg, which takes place from 9-23 July.

Seven teams go through to the finals in Bhubaneswar to join hosts India in December.

Crucially, 10 teams from the London and Johannesburg semi-finals will join hosts India and the five continental champions at the 2018 World Cup, which is also being staged in the east Indian city.

Scotland's Pool B fixtures at Lee Valley Hockey Centre
15 June, India v Scotland 14:00
17 June, Scotland v Netherlands 18:00
19 June, Scotland v Pakistan 12:00
20 June, Scotland v Canada 12:00

Scotland began the tournament last September in World League 1, ranked 28th in the world.

Having qualified for the first of the semi-finals as the best ranked third-place finisher at World League 2, with a 4-0 win over Wales in Belfast, Scotland are now 23rd in the rankings.

However, they are the lowest-ranked nation in the tournament, some way short of their opponents.

In their opening game in London they play India, ranked sixth in the world, while the Netherlands are fourth, Pakistan 13th and Canada 11th.

Forsyth, formerly of Kelburne, will be a key man for the Blue Sticks and is the youngest player ever to reach 50 Scotland caps.

Derek Forysth quote

The Surbiton attacker, who made his Scotland debut in 2009, is also accustomed to playing against the world's best players as part of the Great Britain team.

Forsyth scored four goals in last month's Sultan Azlan Shah Cup in Malaysia and was man of the match in the final when GB beat world champions Australia 4-3.

He not only wants to help Scotland reach the World Cup for the first time, but is desperately keen to emulate the Rio Olympic success of GB women's hockey team.

"I've always wanted to play hockey and at the highest level possible," said Forsyth, who has scored six goals in his 15 GB appearances.

"I want to be playing in Olympics, fighting for an Olympic gold medal.

"I'll always have that aim. You have your ups and downs but you've got that goal in sight and everyone at training with GB is chasing the same thing.

"I was disappointed not to play in Rio but I just look forward and hope that I'll be in Tokyo in 2020. I need to stay consistent and push myself to the next level."

Men's Hockey World League semi-final
Pool APool B
South KoreaPakistan

Reading's Lee Morton and Kenny Bain of Dutch side HGC are among those in Derek Forsyth's 18-man squad, but it is the play of Scotland skipper Chris Grassick with which his Surbiton, Scotland and GB team-mate is most familiar.

Grassick has returned to the Scotland set-up having recovered from a cruciate ligament injury sustained while playing for GB a year ago.

Alan, the top scorer in England's Premier Division last season, said of the midfielder: "Chris is my best mate. He was one of the reasons I moved to Surbiton. He moved there two years before I did.

"It's nice to have a close friend doing the same as you. You can work off each other."

Scotland squad for Hockey World League semi-final:

Wei Adams (Dusseldorf), Tommy Alexander (Reading), Russell Anderson (Cannock), Tim Atkins (Reading), Kenny Bain (HGC), Michael Bremner (Klipper), Gavin Byers (Grove Menzieshill), Callum Duke (Hillhead), David Forrester (Edinburgh University), Alan Forsyth (Surbiton), David Forsyth (Qui Vive), Chris Grassick (Surbiton), Ed Greaves (Loughborough University), Gordon McIntyre (Wimbledon), Willie Marshall (Surbiton), Lee Morton (Reading), Nick Parkes (Surbiton), Jamie Wong (Edinburgh University).