June 01 2020
Hockey World Cup: France downs China, makes quarterfinals
11 December 2018

No sweat for England against New Zealand

It’s target firmly on the 2024 Olympics and having already punched above its weight so far, France kept its dreams alive in the Hockey World Cup here on Monday with a 1-0 win over China, an erratic game of attrition between the two lowest-ranked teams in the fray.

France clearly was the better side, taking inspiration from its win against Argentina and carrying the momentum ahead, hoping for an early goal.

Intrepid Ao

It came close, earning four consecutive penalty corners in the second minute, but was denied every time by rusher Ao Weibao, who had to finally be stretchered out.

In fact, credit for keeping the French quiet till the 36th minute — when Timothee Clement finally got the breakthrough — and after that should also go to Chinese goalkeeper Caiyu Wang, who brought off repeated saves from every side.

The Chinese crowded the midfield and the defence, hoping for a desperate error from the French that came in the ninth minute when Lixing Su got the ball at the top of circle, only to see it snatched away by the lone French defender.

Work to be done

French coach Jeroen Delmee — a double Olympic and World Cup champion — on the other hand would be frustrated by the poor positioning and passing of his wards. Charles Masson and Francois Goyet kept receiving the ball on the right flank but were often out of position for the final pass.

Two consecutive PCs in the final minute for China were not enough to give it the equaliser.

The better team

Also advancing to the last eight was England with a clinical 2-0 win against New Zealand to keep its record of making the last-eight stage in every World Cup since 1973 intact and set up a meeting with Argentina.

Clearly the better team with dominance in every department, England nevertheless missed chances to score more and both coach Danny Kerry and captain Phil Roper admitted penalty corners was an area they needed to work on, more so given the fact that Argentina has Gonzalo Peillat in its ranks.

The reward for France is a quarterfinal meeting with World No. 1 and twice champion Australia.

But that comes later. For now, France will savour this victory.

The results:

England 2 (Will Calnan, Luke Taylor) bt New Zealand 0.

France 1 (Timothee Clement) bt China 0.



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