It’s MondayMotivation time! As we all drive, cycle, walk, train home from a Monday of work, let’s have a look at the most incredible couple of weekends, where our hockey heroes were front stage to try and make it to Tokyo. 

Europe claimed 8 Olympic berths in addition to the winners of the recent Belfius EuroHockey Championships (Belgium (m) and Netherlands (w), so a total of 10/22 teams at the 2020 Olympics will be from Europe! We are very proud.

25th / 26th October 2019:

A massively improved Russian side fell to three-time Olympic gold medalists in Perth 4-2 and 5-0.

Perth (AUS) – Women: Australia 5, Russia 0 (Match 2 of 2)
Three-time gold medallists Australia (WR:2) will be chasing the medals at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 after they put in a devastating first-half stint against a beleaguered Russia (WR:19) to emerge 5-0 winners in their second match. The result means the Hockeyroos were 9-2 winners on aggregate. Australia clinically dispatched the lower-ranked team, largely thanks to a five-minute pitch at the end of the second quarter which brought forth four goals. Goals were scored by Grace Stewart, Mariah Williams, Sophie Taylor Emily Chalker and Kalindi Commerford. Russia for its part will be delighted to have kept a clean sheet in the second half.

Spain’s men faced up and coming challengers France. The games were decided 3-2 (twice) in favour of Spain, Match 2 summary below:

Valencia (ESP) – Men: Spain 3, France 2 (Match 2 of 2)
Spain’s men (WR:8) became the third team of the day to secure Olympic qualification, battling to a 3-2 victory over France (WR:12). Following their thrilling 3-3 draw on Friday, it came as little surprise that the second meeting between the two teams was equally close. France took an early lead thanks to a wonderful individual effort from Gaspard Baumgarten before Miguel Delas and Alvaro Iglesias gave Spain a 2-1 lead. Francois Goyet levelled matters for France in the 39th minute, but it was Xavi Lleonart’s penalty stroke a minute later which proved decisive, giving Spain a ticket to Tokyo ahead of a France team that battled every step of the way.

Spain’s women faced Korea and won both games 2-1 and 2-0 respectively – let’s have a quick look at game 2.

Valencia (ESP) – Women: Spain 2, Korea 0 (Match 2 of 2)
Spain (WR:7) women joined Spain men on their journey to the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 when they beat Korea (WR:11) 2-0, building on the 2-1 victory they posted the previous day. Goals from Begona Garcia and a penalty stroke from Lola Riera sealed the victory for the Red Panthers. Korea had plenty of opportunities to reduce the deficit, winning seven penalty corners. However good goalkeeping from Maria Ruiz kept the Asian team’s efforts from registering. The result means Spain will compete in their seventh Olympic Games. For Korea, this will be their first absence from an Olympic Games since 1988.

That same weekend Belgium lost out to China in their two-legged games, 2-0 both times.

Changzhou (CHN) – Women: China 2, Belgium 0 [2-1 After Shoot-Out] (Match 2 of 2)
A breathless final five minutes of action at the Wujin Stadium in Changzhou saw China (FIH World Ranking: 10) reel back a 2-0 deficit at the hands of Belgium (WR:12) to bring the aggregate score over two matches to 2-2. Head Coach Huang Yongsheng removed his goalkeeper Li Dongxiao with six minutes left to play and the tactic paid handsomely as the China side won a penalty stroke and followed up immediately with a second goal. Gu Bingfeng and Llang Meiyu were the respective goal-scorers.

Player of the Match, Li, then pulled off some great saves to ensure her team won the shoot-out and progressed to their ninth successive Olympic Games. Belgium, who took a 2-0 lead in the first game and defended staunchly for most of the second game, will be devastated at missing out on an opportunity to return to Olympic action for just a second time in their history (London 2012 was the Red Panthers’ only Olympic appearance).

The Dutchmen joined their women in Tokyo with 2 wins over Pakistan 4-4 and then a comprehensive 6-1

Amsterdam (NED) – Men: Netherlands 6, Pakistan 1 (Match 2 of 2)
The day’s action began in front of a capacity crowd at Amsterdam’s world-famous Wagener Stadium, where the men of the Netherlands (FIH World Ranking: 3) and Pakstan (WR:17) faced each other in a winner takes all encounter. Pakistan sensationally defied both the odds and the FIH World Rankings by coming within seconds of beating their illustrious opponents in front of their home fans, but Mink van der Weerden’s last-gasp penalty corner tied the match at 4-4. However, there was to be no repeat performance, with the Netherlands producing a sensational display of attacking hockey to over-run the Green Shirts and seal their place at Tokyo 2020 at the expense of their opponents.

The Netherlands sparkled in the first half, opening up a thoroughly deserved 4-0 lead at the break. Bjorn Kellerman and Mirco Pruijser both netted stunning backhand strikes, while Mink van der Weerden bagged a brace with a penalty stroke and a penalty corner. Goals from Terrance Pieters and Jip Janssen after the break put the result beyond all doubt before Pakistan’s Rizwan Ali scored a late consolation goal.

In Vancover, Ireland’s men had heartbreak as their second game went to sudden death shoot out.

Vancouver (CAN) – Men: Canada 3, Ireland 1 [5-4 After Shoot-Out] (Match 2 of 2) 

A 5-3 victory in the first game meant that Ireland started today’s second match with a two-goal aggregate advantage, a lead that was quickly extended when John McKee put the Green Machine 1-0 up in the sixth minute. Canada’s Olympic dream appeared to be fading, but goals either side of half time from Gordon Johnston and Oliver Scholfield put the hosts within one goal of levelling the aggregate score. Ireland kept the home team at bay until the final second of the fourth quarter when a penalty stroke was awarded, with Canadian captain Scott Tupper showing the calmest of heads to fire into the bottom right corner to tie the aggregate score at 6-6, triggering a shoot-out for the Olympic ticket.

Misses from Canadian pair Sukhi Panesar and Keegan Pereira helped Ireland to establish a 3-1 lead before Michael Robson and Shane O’Donoghue failed to convert, leaving the shoot-out score locked at 3-3 going into sudden death. A mistake from Ireland’s John McKee gave Adam Froese the opportunity to seal the victory and he made no mistake, finding the target to send Canada to the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020.

The second weekend was equally exciting and thrilling as in London GB men and women faced Malaysia and Chile respectively. Both teams ‘did the business’ and booked their tickets to Tokyo

London (ENG) – Women: Great Britain 2, Chile 1 [Great Britain win 5-1 on aggregate]
Reigning Olympic champions Great Britain defeated Chile for the second time in two days, with Sunday’s 2-1 triumph being coupled with a 3-0 success on Saturday to create a comprehensive 5-1 aggregate score-line at the Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre. Mark Hager’s team did all of the damage in the first quarter, with Tessa Howard and Laura Unsworth both scoring superb backhand goals to all but guarantee a place at Tokyo 2020. Great Britain was perhaps guilty of wastefulness in front of goal for the remainder of the match, with Chile netting a consolation goal thanks to Fernanda Villagran’s well-taken penalty corner effort.

London (ENG) – Men: Great Britain 5, Malaysia 2 (Great Britain win 9-3 on aggregate)
Thanks to a 4-1 victory in the Saturday’s first leg, Great Britain’s men brought a healthy advantage into their second match against Malaysia and quickly added to their aggregate tally with two goals in the first period. Alan Forsyth put GB ahead from the penalty spot with his 100th international goal (Scotland and Great Britain combined) before Sam Ward added a brilliant second, catching veteran Malaysia goalkeeper Kumar Subramiam off-guard with an unexpected shot from a tight angle. Fitri Saari pulled a goal back for Malaysia in the second quarter before Ward slammed home a penalty corner early in the third period. Razie Rahim’s penalty corner rocket reduced GB’s match-day lead to 3-2 before Forsyth put the result beyond all doubt, sliding home from open play before completing his hat-trick from the penalty spot to give his side a richly-deserved place at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020.

In Germany, again, home advantage reigned as Germany women and men added 2 more European tickets to Tokyo.

Mönchengladbach (GER) – Women: Germany 7, Italy 0 (Germany win 9-0 on aggregate)
Three goals in the space of 8 minutes were enough to put an early damper on the Italian threat and send Germany women on their way to a dominant 7-0 victory. Added to their 2-0 win from the previous day, the aggregate 9-0 score underlines Die Danas’ Olympic ambitions. The goals came from Cecile Pieper (2), Elisa Grave (2), Lena Micheel, Pia Maertens and Player of the Match Nike Lorenz. Italy fought hard but they found the German defence impenetrable and once the German’s had the ball, their attacking movements were sharp, instinctive and precise.

Mönchengladbach (GER) – Men: Germany 5, Austria 3 (Germany win 10-3 on aggregate)
The teams went into this game with different agendas. Germany’s interim Head Coach Markus Weise wanted a stronger performance from his team, while Austria’s Head Coach Tomasz Szmidt asked his players to play for their own honour. In the end, both teams will have positives. Germany scored five top-class goals, all created from fast, slick passing moves and finished with style. Austria, for their part, took the game to their much higher-ranked rivals and scored three penalty corners – all from the stick of Michael Korper. The result gives Germany the chance to build on their Olympic medal tally of 11 medals, four of them gold.

And finally, in Ireland, their Irish women, in a packed out stadium (a converted rugby stadium, courtesy of a temporary surface), earned their first-ever Olympic slot! Both games ended 0-0 v Canada and the shoot-out queens earned their golden ticket and Europe’s 10th!

Dublin (IRL) – Women: Ireland 0, Canada 0 (Ireland win 4-3 on shoot-out)
For the second day in succession, over 6000 people packed into Dublin’s Energia Park to witness Ireland’s women take on Canada, and the home fans certainly went home happy. Following on from Saturday’s score-less first leg, both teams showed a real determination to settle this contest in regular time, but excellent defending meant that the Olympic ticket would be decided by a shoot-out. It all seemed to go wrong for the home team, who found themselves facing heartbreak as Gillian Pinder and Roisin Upton failed to convert while goals from Stephanie Norlander, Amanda Woodcroft and captain Kate Wright gave Canada what looked like an unassailable 3-1 advantage. However, Ireland’s never-say-die spirit once more came to the fore, with goalkeeper Ayeisha McFerran keeping Brienne Stairs and Shanlee Johnston off the score-sheet while sensational finishes from Ireland’s Beth Barr and Chloe Watkins sent the match to sudden-death. Roisin Upton then put the Irish ahead with another wonderful finish before McFerran denied Woodcroft, giving Ireland an incredible victory and triggering scenes of utter joy in the stadium. It was a heartbreaking defeat for Canada, who matched their higher-ranked opponents throughout but fell just short in the shoot-out.

FIH Hockey Olympic qualifiers

Results
Friday 25 October 2019 – Day 1 Results
Perth (AUS) – Women: Australia 4, Russia 2 (Match 1 of 2)
Changzhou (CHN) – Women: China 0, Belgium 2 (Match 1 of 2)
Valencia (ESP) – Men: Spain 3, France 3 (Match 1 of 2)
Valencia (ESP) – Women: Spain 2, Korea 1 (Match 1 of 2)

Saturday 26 October 2019 – Day 2 Results
Changzhou (CHN) – Women: China 2, Belgium 0 (Match 2 of 2)
Perth (AUS) – Women: Australia 5, Russia 0 (Match 2 of 2)
Amsterdam (NED) – Men: Netherlands 4, Pakistan 4 (Match 1 of 2)
Valencia (ESP) – Men: Spain 3, France 2 (Match 2 of 2)
Valencia (ESP) – Women: Spain 2, Korea 0 (Match 2 of 2)
Vancouver (CAN) – Men: Canada 3, Ireland 5 (Match 1 of 2)

Sunday 27 October 2019 – Day 3 Results
Amsterdam (NED) – Men: Netherlands 6, Pakistan 1 (Match 2 of 2)
Vancouver (CAN) – Men: Canada 3 Ireland 1 [5-4 After Shoot-Out] (Match 2 of 2)

Friday 1 November 2019 – Day 4 Results
Bhubaneswar (IND) – Women: India 5, USA 1 (Match 1 of 2)
Bhubaneswar (IND) – Men: India 4, Russia 2 (Match 1 of 2)

Saturday 2 November 2019 – Day 5 Results
Stratford (NZL) – Men: New Zealand 3, Korea 2 (Match 1 of 2)
Bhubaneswar (IND) – Women: India 1, USA 4 (Match 2 of 2)
London (ENG) – Women: Great Britain 3, Chile 0 (Match 1 of 2)
Bhubaneswar (IND) – Men: India 7, Russia 1 (Match 2 of 2)
Mönchengladbach (GER) – Women: Germany 2, Italy 0 (Match 1 of 2)
London (ENG) – Men: Great Britain 4, Malaysia 1 (Match 1 of 2)
Mönchengladbach (GER) – Men: Germany 5, Austria 0 (Match 1 of 2)
Dublin (IRL) – Women: Ireland 0, Canada 0 (Match 1 of 2)

Sunday 3 November 2019 – Day 6 Results
Stratford (NZL) – Men: New Zealand 3, Korea 0 (Match 2 of 2)
London (ENG) – Women: Great Britain 2, Chile 1 (Match 2 of 2)
Mönchengladbach (GER) – Women: Germany 7, Italy 0 (Match 2 of 2)
London (ENG) – Men: Great Britain 5, Malaysia 2 (Match 2 of 2)
Mönchengladbach (GER) – Men: Germany 5, Austria 3 (Match 2 of 2)
Dublin (IRL) – Women: Ireland 0, Canada 0 [4-3 After Shoot-Out] (Match 2 of 2)

#Tokyo2020
#RoadToTokyo
#GiftOfHockey

Content: FIH.ch