The quarterfinal lineup was completed after several scintillating performances on the final day of pool matches at the FIH Indoor Hockey World Cup in Pretoria, South Africa.
The men’s Pool B clash between the Czech Republic and Iran produced a 16-goal thriller. The Czechs led 6-3 by the 25th minute but the feisty Iranians came back at them. Just like they had done against South Africa the day before, a final-minute goal clinched a dramatic, last-gasp draw for Iran.
The 8-8 draw was enough to see the Iranians through to the quarterfinals, but there was disappointment for the fourth-ranked Czech Republic who are now left to fight it out for the minor places.
The other Pool B battle, between South Africa and Argentina, was another entertaining, high-scoring affair, which saw the hosts snatching a 5-4 win with another Mustapha Cassiem goal in the final minute.
“It was our goal at the start [to make it into the quarterfinals]… it means everything,” said a thrilled South African captain, Jethro Eustice. “It was emotionally and physically demanding, everything that needed to be put in was in there today. I think that was probably the turning point in the last minute, that we all looked at each other and said all we need is one chance and one chance we got and we took it. It’s emotional and exciting at the same time.”
Despite the loss, Argentina are also through to the quarterfinals thanks to their earlier victories over Iran and Australia.
In the other men’s pool it was Namibia who booked the final top-four spot despite a 4-4 draw with New Zealand.
“I’m a bit disappointed we let them back into the game there, but at least we’re in the quarters,” said Namibian coach Trevor Cormack afterwards. “Now the tournament starts all over again so we’ve got to focus on that and we’ll give our best again.”
Austria, the Netherlands and the Czech Republic had already secured their quarterfinal places before the final pool matches of the women’s tournament but the other spots were yet to be determined.
There was double joy for the home crowd when the South African women claimed their second victory of the tournament, beating New Zealand 6-3 to qualify for the top eight.
“It’s an amazing achievement, the highest we have finished in a tournament like this,” said South African captain Jess O’Connor.” We know we have a tough one tomorrow, so we will get some rest now and then try to focus on keeping the winning momentum.”
Australia went down 2-4 to Austria in their final pool match, but still progressed thanks to their earlier victories against the USA and New Zealand.
In Pool B, it was Belgium, Ukraine and Canada who joined the already-qualified Czech Republic in the quarterfinals. Belgium defeated Canada 1-0 thanks to a third-quarter goal from Claire Barry, and the Canadians then faced an anxious wait for the outcome of the final pool clash between Ukraine and Kazakhstan to discover whether they’d done enough to progress. That match ended in a 3-3 draw, with one point not enough to see the Kazakhs through ahead of Canada.
Belgian captain Laurine Delforge said: “We came here as one of the lowest-ranked teams and we had one goal and that was to get out of the pool stage. Today we managed to secure the point that we needed to go through. It’s only our second World Cup… and to manage to qualify for the quarterfinals really means a lot to us but also for our country and for indoor sports in Belgium.”
Canadian coach Shankar Premakanthan was particularly proud of his team’s performance, having finished the group stages with one loss, one win and three draws.
“We have a very young team at this tournament and I’m so proud of what they’ve accomplished,” he said. “We were a hair away from getting a result in this one and we’ve been in every single match in this tournament so far. So I’m disappointed with this result but I’m super-proud of the effort and the progress this group has made… how we’ve played is tremendous. I think we grew with every game.”
Friday’s men’s quarterfinal clashes will see Belgium facing Iran while defending world champions Austria are up against Argentina, the USA take on Namibia, and the Netherlands play South Africa.
In the women’s tournament, the Czech Republic face Australia, Austria take on Ukraine, Belgium play South Africa and the Netherlands are up against Canada in a bid to reach Saturday’s semifinals.
9 February 2023 Results
Result: Match 25 – women
Netherlands 3 – 2 USA
Player of the match: Elizabeth Tamburro (USA)
Umpires: Ornpimol Kittiteerasopon (THA), Cathy Wright (WAL)
Result: Match 25 – men
South Africa 6 – 5 Argentina
Player of the match: Chad Futcher (RSA)
Umpires: Adam Barry (AUS), Sean Edwards (ENG)
Result: Match 26 – women
South Africa 6 – 3 New Zealand
Player of the match: Daniela de Oliveira (RSA)
Umpires: Sophie Bockelmann (GER), Rachel Williams (ENG
Result: Match 26 – men
USA 4 – 2 Australia
Player of the match: Stuart Kentwell (USA)
Umpires: Lee Barron (ENG), Ayden Shrives (RSA)
Result: Match 27 – women
Australia 2 – 4 Austria
Player of the match: Katharina Bauer (AUT)
Umpires: Lyndal Robertson (RSA), Cathy Wright (WAL)
Result: Match 27 – men
Czech Republic 8 – 8 Iran
Player of the match: Tomas Prochazka (CZE)
Umpires: Diego Barbas (ARG), Rachel Williams (ENG)
Result: Match 28 – women
Belgium 1 – 0 Canada
Player of the match: Claire Barry (BEL)
Umpires: Lukasz Zwierzchowski (POL), Ornpimol Kittiteerasopon (THA)
Result: Match 28 – men
Belgium 1 – 7 Netherlands
Player of the match: Boris Burkhardt (NED)
Umpires: Lee Barron (ENG), Adam Barry (AUS)
Result: Match 29 – women
Namibia 0 – 6 Czech Republic
Player of the match: Anna Vorlova (CZE)
Umpires: Lyndal Robertson (RSA), Sean Edwards (ENG)
Result: Match 29 – men
Austria 9 – 2 Kazakhstan
Player of the match: Michael Körper (AUT)
Umpires: Sophie Bockelmann (GER), Lukasz Zwierzchowski (POL)
Result: Match 30 – women
Ukraine 3 – 3 Kazakhstan
Player of the match: Karyna Leonova (UKR)
Umpires: Ayden Shrives (RSA), Celine Martin-Schmets (BEL)
Result: Match 30 – men
Namibia 4 – 4 New Zealand
Player of the match: Liam Hermanus (NAM)
Umpires: Diego Barbas (ARG), Celine Martin-Schmets (BEL)