KARACHI If ranking is any yardstick to judge who will emerge winner in the eight-team Champions Challenge hockey starting at Salta Argentina December 6, then Pakistan ranked the 7th highest amongst the participants are favourite to clinch the competition and qualify for the 2010 Champions Trophy in Germany. Other participants in the championship are: New Zealand (8), Belgium (9), Argentina (10), Canada (11), India (12) and china (13). Pakistan is placed in group B of the event with Canada, Argentina and South Africa. Pakistan may be the highest ranked but they have to be cautious of all other teams in the group. Other teams that could spring surprise on Pakistan are India and China, the silver medallist of Doha Asian games where Pakistan finished third. In Group A are: Belgium, China, New Zealand and India. Pakistan starts their campaign on December 6 against Canada and play Argentina on December 8 and South Africa on December 10. Pakistan along with China and Canada are playing in the competition first time. The Champions Challenge was created by the FIH in 2001 as a second tier competition for the elite Champions Trophy. It is organised after every two years with the winner of each edition qualified for the Champions Trophy in the following year (the winner of the 2009 Champions Challenge in Salta will be qualified for the 2010 Champions Trophy, scheduled for the end of July in Monchengladbach, Germany). Originally played by 6 teams, the Champions Challenge has now been extended to 8 teams for the first time this year. Five of the eight teams competing in Salta have already participated in previous Champions Challenge. Argentina played in three Champions Challenge and won twice (2005 in Alexandria and 2007 in Antwerp-Boom). Belgium and South Africa also played in three Champions Challenge; South Africa stood twice on the podium (2nd in 2001 in Kuala Lumpur and 3rd in 2003 at home in Randburg) while Belgium finished 3rd in 2005 in Alexandria. India played in two Champions Challenge, winning the inaugural (one in 2001 in Kuala Lumpur and finishing 3rd) two years ago in Antwerp-Boom. New Zealand also played in two Champions Challenge, only losing the last edition in Boom to Argentina on a 'golden goal in overtime. Canada, China and Pakistan have never participated in a Champions Challenge. Canada and China have only recently climbed high enough in the world rankings to be invited to this event, while Pakistan is coming down the ladder from the top tier Champions Trophy, where they have been regular participants since its inception in 1978: 28 participations (only missing the 2000 and 2008 editions) and 15 podiums.