A hat-trick from Gaspard Baumgarten helped France (FIH World Ranking: 18) to a 5-2 victory over China (WR: 28) in the final of the Greenfields Hockey World League Round 2 event in Cape Town.
Baumgarten’s trio of open play efforts came in the middle of goals from team-mates Charles Masson and Hugo Genestet, as the Europeans finished the tournament with an impressive six wins from six matches. Meng Wei and Ao Yang were on target for China, a team that performed way above expectations by finishing the event ahead of three higher-ranked teams: South Africa (WR: 13), Czech Republic (20) and Egypt (WR: 21).
The tournament success was very much the icing on the cake for France who, like fellow finalists China, had already sealed a safe passage through to the Olympic qualification phase of the Hockey World League by winning their respective semi-finals.
The one remaining ticket to the Hockey World League Semi-Finals was claimed by Egypt, who battled to a shoot-out victory over continental rivals and host nation South Africa in the 3rd place play-off match. Normal time came to an end with the scores locked at 2-2, with Egypt’s Amr Ibrahim drawing his team level in the final minute before the north Africans emerged 3-2 winners in the shoot-out.
The result condemned the home favourites to fourth place and means that they must now rely on success in the African continental championship later this year if they are to realize their dream of competing in the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. The African Cup for Nations will take place in October, being hosted by Egypt.
Earlier in the day, Switzerland (WR: 38) ended their tournament on a positive note with victory against higher-ranked Czech Republic to take 5th place while Azerbaijan (WR: 31) claimed 7th by defeating Belarus (WR: 35). To see all tournament fixtures and results, please click here.
The three highest finishers in the eight-team men’s tournament, which started on Saturday 7th March and concluded on Sunday 15th March, were each guaranteed a place in the Hockey World League Semi-Finals (Round 3), where places at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games are available.
A total of nine qualification places for the HWL Semi-Finals were available in Round 2, with the top three finishers at each of the tournaments in Singapore (SIN), San Diego (USA) and Cape Town (RSA) all being certain to compete in the next phase.
Malaysia, Poland and Japan all qualified for the HWL Semi-Finals thanks to top three finishes at the event in Singapore (SIN) earlier this year. They were then joined by Ireland, Austria and Canada at the event in San Diego last week, with France, China and Egypt qualifying from the Cape Town tournament.
To learn more about how the teams progress through the competition in the hope of reaching the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, click here.
You can catch up on all of the action from Cape Town on the official tournament microsite.
Greenfields Hockey World League Round 2 – Men – New Delhi, India
1: France – Qualified for Semi-Finals of Hockey World League
2: China – Qualified for Semi-Finals of Hockey World League
3: Egypt – Qualified for Semi-Finals of Hockey World League
4: South Africa
6: Czech Republic
Player of the Tournament: Simon Brisac Martin (FRA)
Top Scorer: Austin Smith (RSA) - 6 goals
Young Player of the Tournament: Li Zecheng (CHN)
Goalkeeper of the Tournament: Martin Zylbermann (FRA)