06 December 2018
Bhubaneswar: France, the lowest ranked team competing at the Odisha Hockey Men’s World Cup Bhubaneswar 2018, stunned the hockey world on Day Nine, defeating Olympic champions Argentina to seal a second-place finish in Pool A just behind the Pan American giants.
A 5-3 victory for France against Los Leones was undisputedly the biggest shock of the competition so far, upsetting the FIH Hero World Rankings both in terms of the result and the effect on the final standings in the pool, with the European side finishing above higher-ranked New Zealand on goal difference and eliminating neighbours Spain from the competition.
France stormed into a stormed into a 4-1 half time lead against their illustrious opponents, with Hugo Genestet, Victor Charlet, Aristide Coisne and Gaspard Baumgarten on target for the Europeans, with Lucas Martinez scoring for Los Leones. It was a fantasy half-time score-line for France, putting them within touching distance of a remarkable second place finish in the pool and would subsequently eliminate Spain from the competition.
Although the lead held by France was a commanding one, Argentina have proven many times down the years that they are capable of coming back from unlikely positions. Gonzalo Peillat’s low penalty corner just before the end of the third quarter gave the South Americans hope, setting up a very exciting final quarter.
Another ferocious penalty corner drag-flick from Peillat made it 4-3 at the start of the fourth period, but it was France who had the last say when Francois Goyet deflected home to seal an extraordinary 5-3 victory to move into the cross-over play-offs as the second placed finisher in Pool A.
It’s really amazing, an incredible game for us”, said Odisha Player of the Match Hugo Genestet after the match. “I think the first half was almost perfect, although we stepped down a little bit after half time. They scored with one of the best drag flickers in the world, but out fifth goal was really cool, arriving at a good moment. We know we can beat every team in this competition, but 5-3 against the Olympic champion and to finish second in the pool, it’s incredible.” Despite the result, it was a milestone day for Argentina’s Agustin Mazzilli, who made his 200thsenior international appearance for Los Leones.