Odisha Hockey Men’s World Cup: France defeats Olympic champion Argentina, ousts Spain from knock out round
France caused a flutter defeating Olympic champions Argentina 5-3 besides ousting Spain from the knock out round of the Odisha Hockey Men’s World Cup at Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar on Thursday. With this splendid win, France is through to the knock out round.
Intriguingly, in an earlier game, France had muffed a stroke and lost a chance to defeat Spain. But today by defeating Argentina, the French eliminated Spain from the tournament.
In the highest scoring game of the tournament so far, France held its nerve even when Argentina tried to stage a comeback late in the third and early fourth quarter.
Hugo Genestet was rightly adjudged man of the match.
It rained goals in the second quarter. No one expected France to be on goal scoring spree against one of the toughest defence oriented outfit like Argentina. But French did it. Ranked 20th in the world against defending Olympic champion Argentina, ranked number 2 in the world, France shredded the South Americans defence into pieces. But like a Phoenix, a revitalized Argentine defence emerged in the third quarter that did not allow its opponents to have a clear view of its citadel.
Starting with 43rd minute in the third quarter, Gonzalo Peillat tried to bring Argentina back into the game with two brilliant penalty corner conversions. But Francois Goyet had different ideas. He ran in to score the eighth goal of the game to make it 5-3 for France and the tallest scoring match of the tournament so far.In the process, French knocked Spain out of the tournament.
In the last 12 minutes of the Second quarter, the brilliant French duo of Hugo Genestet and Gaspard Baumgarten tormented the Olympic champions deep defence. Though Gaspard scored the first and the fourth goal for his team in the 18th and 30th minute, the role of Hugo Genestet as play maker could not be undermined.
Once in lead, French skipper Victor Charlet pumped in a penalty corner goal in the 23rd minute to make it 2-0 while a minute later it was Coisne Aristide who scored a gem of a field goal to make it 3-0.
Stung by these reverses, experienced Argentina tried to put its game together and managed to reduce the margin in the 23rdminute when Minini combined beautifully with Lucas Martinez who found the target with a perfect drive.
This goal, however, did not deter the French who had been on the rampage. Just before teams were looking forward to half time, Gaspard and Genestet struck again to wrest the advantage for their team again. It was 4-1 at half time.
Drag flicker Gonzalo Peillat scored two penalty corner goals for Argentina, first in the 44th minute with a powerful low flick in the right corner of the goal and the second in the 47thminute with a flick in the roof of the net.
Olympic champions Argentina started as favourites. Though the previous encounters have been evenly shared with both the teams winning three games each of the six encounters that took place, the South Americans had made sure of its berth in the next knock out round with maximum six points from previous two games. Argentina is already through to quarter finals with two emphatic wins in earlier games.
France, the under dogs, has returned to the World Cup after a gap of 28 years and is the lowest ranked team here.
Man of the match: Hugo Genestet (France).