The Road to Cardiff as nations aim for the Final!
As with the women’s event, the men’s event is also from 21st – 24th October. The teams qualified for the FIH Hockey Men’s World Cup 2022 – European Qualifier 2021 will battle it out for two prized slots on offer for the 2023 FIH Hockey Men’s World Cup.
The road to Cardiff consists of the teams qualified from the EuroHockey Championship in Amsterdam in June: France, Wales, and Russia in addition to the teams qualified from the EuroHockey Championship II in Gniezno: Austria, Scotland, Ireland, Poland, and Italy.
The format in Cardiff is a knockout starting on 21st with the Quarterfinals. Given the vital nature of each game, the match schedule is based on the Olympic order seeding, which was based on the FIH World Rankings.
All games will be live-streamed on the EHF’s OTT platform EuroHockeyTV.org (see links below)
Full squad details are available here: https://tms.fih.ch/competitions/1361
Day 1 on 21st October will be critical as it’s a step towards World Cup Qualification, a team needs to win two games to be qualified, but looking at the match-ups none will be pushovers!
11:00 France v Poland (1st v 8th seed)
As France is the top seed by virtue of their World Ranking of 13th, they take on the 8th seed Poland (WR26). These teams have a history of competition over many years. Believe it or not, they drew 4-4 against each other in the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich.
In more recent times France has been the victors on their last two meetings, in 2017 and more recently at the 2019 EuroHockey Championship II where France won but only by 2
France entertained the crowds at the 2021 EuroHockey Championships with some fantastic high-scoring games! Poland’s preparation has included hosting the 2021 EuroHockey Championship II, where they finished 4th behind Austria, Scotland, and Ireland, all of whom are also in Cardiff.
13:30 Austria v Scotland (4th v 5th seed)
On paper this is the closest game with Austria (WR19) and Scotland (WR20), hence the 4th and 5th seeding. They met twice recently at the EuroHockey Championship II in Gniezno, Austria won both games, the pool game and then the final.
However, it took a sudden-death shoot-out in the final to separate the teams! So this one could be too close to call and with the possibility of another shoot-out.
16:00 Ireland v Russia (2nd v 7th seed)
Russia (WR23) hasn’t faced Ireland (WR14) since 2014, so it’s impossible to look at a pattern of previous games as they are very different squads since then.
The lead-up to this event for Russia has mainly been via the EuroHockey Championship in Amsterdam where they struggled with the pace, but given they had had no international opposition since the Covid crisis. They improved as the event went on, losing narrowly (5-6) to France and drawing with Wales 3-3.
Ireland finished 3rd at the 2021 EuroHockey Championship II but has strengthened its squad with players who missed out due to close contact quarantines and Olympian Conor Harte.
18:30 Wales v Italy (3rd v 6th seed)
Wales (WR18) faces Italy (WR22) in the final game of the day.
Wales and Italy do not have a very comprehensive history, their most recent game was in 2017, and with very new squads since then, the 3-0 win for Wales can’t really be considered here. However, Wales has been building since 2017 and qualified for the EuroHockey Championship in 2019 and indeed remained in the top flight for the 2021 event in Amsterdam in June. A tough event for them as they only recorded one win v France (3-2). Italy finished 5th in the recent Championship II, so Wales should have the advantage along with home crowd support!
The winners of Day 1 will be rewarded with a rest day on Friday 22nd and will be in action again for the Semi-Final games on Saturday 23rd. Ranking games will be played on 22nd and 24th.
The Final will take place at 16:30 (CET) on Sunday 24th – both teams will have earned Qualification!
All games will be live-streamed for free on the EHF’s dedicated video platform www.eurohockeytv.org
*FIH World Rankings correct as of 15th October 2021