03.07.2016, Brussels; The Netherlands and Korea have reached the competition final of the FINTRO Hockey World League Semi-Finals in Antwerp thanks to semi-final wins over Australia and New Zealand respectively.
Goals from Carlien van den Heuvel, Maartje Paumen, Ginela Zerbo, Lidewij Welten and Willemijn Bos helped the Netherlands defeat Australia to book their place in the final. They are now certain to finish in the top two, guaranteeing Netherlands one of the three available tickets to the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.
Korea claimed their place in the showpiece final with a dramatic shoot-out victory over New Zealand, which leaves the Black Sticks needing to defeat Australia in the 3-4 play-off match if they are to qualify for the Rio 2016 Olympics.
With Korea already having already achieved Olympic qualification by virtue of winning the Asian Continental Championship last year, a certain top three finish here in Belgium opens the door to the highest ranked of the fourth place finishers from the HWL Semi-Final events in Valencia and Antwerp.
This is good news for Australia, who sit higher in the FIH rankings than Valencia’s fourth placed team Argentina, meaning that should the Hockeyroos lose against the Black Sticks, they will still be handed the ticket to Rio ahead of the Pan American giants.
The Black Sticks are below Argentina in the world rankings, and will therefore need to defeat their Oceania rivals to absolutely guarantee their Olympic berth at this event.
Earlier in the day, India and Japan both needed shoot-outs to take victories in their respective 5-8 play-off matches against Italy and host nation Belgium.
The final day of the women’s competition takes place on Saturday 4th July. As well as the big matches of the day, the 5-6 play-off between India and Japan will also be fiercely contested as a fifth place finish would provide an increased chance of qualifying for Rio following the completion of the Continental Championships. The running order for Saturday is as follows.
All timings are Central European Summer Time (UTC/GMT +2):
7-8 play-off – 1030: Italy v Belgium
5-6 play-off – 1300: India v Japan
3-4 play-off – 1530: Australia v New Zealand
Final – 1800: Netherlands v Korea
Friday is men’s semi-finals day at the Hockey World League in Antwerp, with Belgium’s Red Lions going head-to-head with India before Australia’s Kookaburras play Great Britain.
A top three finish in Antwerp guarantees a ticket to Rio. However, the arrival of India – who have already qualified for Rio as the Asian Continental champions – in the competition final four has effectively secured Olympic berths for the other three semi-finalists even if they finish fourth.
This is because a top three finish for India will create an Olympic berth for the highest ranked of the fourth place finishers from the two HWL Semi-Final events in Buenos Aires and Antwerp. Canada finished fourth in Argentina, but Australia, Belgium and Great Britain all sit higher in the world rankings and will therefore qualify for Rio.
More details about the men’s and women’s FINTRO Hockey World League Semi-Finals including match highlights, imagery, scheduling, reports as well as all competition information can be found on www.fih.ch.
Photograph: Netherlands celebrate (Frank Uijlenbroek (c))