Spain, Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany will all represent Europe in Sunday’s Olympic men’s quarter-finals on Sunday in Rio de Janeiro after their respective group performances.
All four finished in the top two of the groups and Europe but Great Britain and Ireland both bowed out on the final day of pool-play following their games with Spain and Argentina, respectively.
For GB, they needed to outdo New Zealand’s result against Belgium but could only draw 1-1 in a hotly contested tie.
Reflecting on the game, Ashley Jackson said: “I thought we were quite good actually. I thought we were better again, we’ve been improving as the tournament has been going on.
“It’s a bit annoying that we weren’t good enough in the circle at the end to score a goal. We dominated the second half and had a bunch of chances.
“We have to put the ball in the goal. We’ve not scored many field goals if you take the Brazil game out if it. Corners, as well. We just need better execution basically, we’re pretty slack when it comes to the real key areas of goalscoring and keeping the ball out.”
New Zealand went on to beat table-topping Belgium 3-1 – their first defeat of the campaign – to give the Blacksticks a quarter-final spot.
Ireland, meanwhile, needed to beat Argentina and were in with a chance at 2-2 with ten minutes to go before Gonzalo Peillat scored his second goal of the game to win it 3-2.
Speaking about the first Olympic experience for Ireland, Conor Harte said: “We’ve met many many roadblocks and nothing has stopped us. It’s quite obvious to say this is the pinnacle of our hockey career, but we have a taste for it now.
“We didn’t just come here to step on the field and call ourselves Olympians, we wanted to prove it to ourselves and to Ireland that we’re good enough to be here. I think we showed that. Hopefully, now we’ll get some support and funding and we can continue to overcome these roadblocks.”
In the quarter-finals on Sunday, Spain start the day against Argentina at 10am (Brazilian time) before Belgium face India at 12.30pm. In the evening session, the Netherlands face Australia at 6.30pm while Germany play New Zealand at 8.30pm.