Day 1 of the European Qualifiers got underway in Cardiff today.
The quarterfinals would see 4 teams progress to the semi-finals on Saturday (with the Finals on Sunday) and 4 teams play the ranking games on Friday and Sunday.
Match 1: France v Poland (5-0)
An experienced French side took on a young Polish side in the opening game.
Full game stats here: https://tms.fih.ch/matches/15450
A pleased Victor Lockwood (French captain) spoke about being very happy with the win “First game is done! We know either Austria or Scotland – two strong teams, always a tough game. We will prepare for that as if it was a Cup Final, which of course it is, if we win it we go to the World Cup.”
A rest day for the French tomorrow as Austria is confirmed as their opponent.
Match 2: Austria v Scotland (0-0) 3-2 SO
Full game stats here: https://tms.fih.ch/matches/15451
The game ended in a draw, a repeat of the Championship II Final so once again the teams faced each other in a shootout.
Austrian Captain Xaver Hasun spoke to us after the game and faced Scotland again in a shootout “Expected them strong, they played well and they had a lot of chances, we were a bit lucky to have a clean sheet. But in the end, especially in the second half, we played some good hockey. It wasn’t how I wanted it to be, but we were really happy with the win.” Speaking about playing France in the semi-final he added “France are great, they are fast and with some quick players, but we start with a 0-0, and it’s a huge opportunity for us to get to the World Cup.”
Match 3: Ireland v Russia 2-0
Full game stats here: https://tms.fih.ch/matches/15452
Ireland, with a full complement of players, faced 13 Russian players due to travel issues. Russia proved their fitness, by matching Ireland play for play. Walker was on target twice for Ireland and that was the difference between the teams. Ireland progress to the semi-final on Saturday and will face the winners of Match 4.
Irish Captain Sean Murray said “We are massively happy, must-win games here, one down and one to go (for the World Cup slot). We had to try and grind them down and bring them out, but we got the two goals and that was a bit of a cushion towards the end of the game. We’ll do our homework on our opposition for Saturday and prep well and be ready.”
Match 4: Wales v Italy 2-0
Full game stats here: https://tms.fih.ch/matches/15453
The hosts put on a show for their home audience as Gareth Furlong found the net twice via penalty corners to give the crowd something to cheer about!
Speaking with Gareth he explained “Feeling pretty happy, it was quite a tough game with not too many chances for either side. We had done a lot of video coming into this Tournament and worked hard the past couple of months, and then it was time to execute.”
On facing Ireland in the semi-finals he added “We’ve not played Ireland for a while, the last time in 2019 in Antwerp and with both teams having quite different sides now. We are expecting a really difficult game. For now, it’s time to recover and prepare.”
All games will be live-streamed on www.eurohockeytv.org
Gareth Furlong (Wales) celebrated (EHF / Irfon Bennett)