Hockey World Cup 2018: France stun Olympic champs Argentina, Spain out

Unbelievable is the word that sums up the match between France and Argentina. Nobody could have imagined world No. 2 and reigning Olympic champions Argentina losing to France, the lowest-ranked team in the tournament at 20.

But the French hockey team shocked the South Americans 5-3 at the Kalinga Hockey Stadium in Bhubaneswar on Thursday to stay in contention.

Thursday was the third time the two sides faced each other in World Cup — after 1971 and 1990 and on both the occasions, the South Americans came out winners.

France, playing a World Cup after 28 years, took a surprise 4-1 lead after only two quarters.

Taken aback, Argentina who are also known as ‘The Lions’, hit back late and made it 3-4 with nine minutes to go. It seemed the South Americans would come back to win but then France stepped up the intensity to cause the biggest upset of the tournament.

“It was a crucial game for us and the future of hockey in France depended a lot on our performance at the World Cup. Our team did us proud,” said France coach Jeroen Delmee. “For the last two years, we were preparing hard for the World Cup and the way our team played today gives us confidence to take on the world’s best in the future. Our aim is to be among the top-10 in the world,” the coach added.

France player Gaspard Baumgarten said, “Before the game, we never thought we would dominate the match. But as the match progressed, the momentum carried us.”

For France, Hugo Genestet (18), Victor Charlet (23), Aristide Coisne (26), Gaspard Baumgarten (30) and Francois Goyet (54) were the scorers, while for Argentina after Lucas Martinez’s goal in the 28th minute, Gonzalo Peillat scored twice in the 44th and 48th minute.

Spain, who drew 2-2 with New Zealand earlier in the evening, crashed out of the tournament after finishing fourth. Both France, who finished second in the group and third-placed New Zealand will play crossover games. Argentina, despite the loss, topped Pool A and made it to the quarter-finals.

First Published: Dec 06, 2018 23:21 IST

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