The dream of qualifying for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games moved a little closer to reality for two hopeful nations on Saturday (21st February), with Uruguay and Italy winning their respective semi-finals at the women’s Hockey World League Round 2 event in Montevideo.
Home favourites Uruguay (FIH World Ranking: 31) continued their sensational form by recording a 2-0 victory over Pan American rivals Mexico (WR: 28) to seal not just their place in the tournament final but also a safe passage through to the HWL Semi-Final phase (Round 3) where coveted berths at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games are up for grabs. Lucia Lamberti and Constanza Barrandeguy netted the goals in front of a huge, passion-filled crowd that were privileged to witnessed a wonderful moment in the history of Uruguayan hockey.
Italy (WR: 17) secured their place in the competition final with a stunning 4-0 triumph over Azerbaijan (WR: 19), a team that had greatly impressed throughout the competition in Montevideo. Maria Garraffo bagged a double with Marcela Casale Lhex and Giuliana Ruggieri also getting their respective names on the score-sheet in a dominant display by the Italians, who like Uruguay are now certain to feature in the Semi Final phase of the Hockey World League.
Both Italy and Uruguay have already faced each other in Montevideo, with Uruguay edging the Pool A encounter in a shoot-out after regular time finished with the scores locked at 2-2. Despite Italy’s clear advantage in the FIH World Rankings, the potential winner of this contest is incredibly hard to predict.
All eight teams will be in action on Sunday (22 February), with the final day’s play getting underway with Kenya and Dominican Republic going head-to-head in the 7-8 classification match (1230 local time – UTC/GMT -2) before France and Trinidad & Tobago take to the field in the battle for 5th place (1500).
Mexico and Azerbaijan (1730) will meet in 3-4 classification match ahead of the showpiece final between host nation Uruguay and Italy (2000). To see all tournament fixtures and results, please click here.
You can keep track of all of the action from Montevideo on the official tournament microsite.