By Lucas Ball
Congratulations to Ollie Payne, David Ames, Phil Roper, Nick Bandurak (all Great Britain) and Hayden Phillips (New Zealand) as both teams qualified for Paris 2024 at the FIH Olympic Qualifier in Muscat, Oman alongside world champions Germany.
Great Britain won all three of their pool games with all four Holcombe players involved in each match as GB comfortably progressed to the last-four by beating Pakistan 6-1, Malaysia 4-1 and China 6-0.
Bandurak was on the scoresheet against Pakistan in the opening match alongside former Holc Sam Ward (2), Jack Waller, Will Calnan and Zach Wallace.
Another Ward brace followed in game two with Wallace and Calnan netting again before Holcs man Roper netted in the final pool game against China as Ward added a third brace in as many matches.
Wallace also netted twice and Calnan added his third of the tournament to complete the rout as Paul Revington’s side topped Pool A.
Pakistan finished second after beating China 2-0 before finishing their pool stage with a 3-3 draw against Malaysia.
New Zealand won two out of their three matches in Pool B, meanwhile, to finish behind world champions Germany on goal difference.
Phillips started all three matches – Greg Nicol’s side started with a 3-1 win over Chile, captained by ex-Holcombe player Jose Maldonado, before drawing 2-2 against Germany, Phillips scoring the equaliser.
That left New Zealand needing a 10-goal win to finish top of the group against Canada, but they won 4-0 to finish second and set-up a semi-final meeting with Great Britain – Phillips then facing his fellow Holcombe women’s coach and teammate Bandurak and other teammates Payne, Ames and Roper.
Roper, Ames, Payne and Phillips all started that semi-final clash, the winner guaranteed a spot at Paris 2024. Roper and then Ward scored two in two minutes in Q2 as Revington’s side took control of the tie, before Kane Russell halved the deficit.
Ward added his eighth goal in just four matches late in the third period as GB booked their ticket to Paris, setting up a clash with Germany for the gold medal.
Phillips and New Zealand, though, had to recover quickly to take on Pakistan just a day later with qualification still on the line – the Black Sticks last failed to qualify in 2000.
Pakistan had been beaten 4-0 by a ruthless Germany to leave them playing for bronze and looking to reach a first Olympic Games since London 2012.
Abu Mahmood scored a penalty corner and a penalty stroke either side of a Scott Boyde goal in Q2 to give Sheikh Shahnaz’s side the lead which they held until there were just eight minutes left on the clock.
Hugo Inglis netted an equaliser to give the Black Sticks renewed hope of qualification before Boyde added his second with just two minutes left to break Pakistan hearts and send Phillips and New Zealand to the Olympics.
With the other men’s qualifiers in Valencia also concluded, the 12 qualifiers for Paris are: Netherlands, Germany, Great Britain, Spain, France, South African, Belgium, India, Australia, Argentina, New Zealand and Ireland.
Great Britain’s women – featuring four former Holcombe players in Laura Roper (formerly Unsworth), Miriam Pritchard, Sarah Robertson and Sarah Jones – also secured qualification in Valencia, Spain over the weekend.
David Ralph’s side finished second in Pool B behind hosts Spain, beating Canada – coached by former GB duo Danny Kerry and Kate Richardson-Walsh – 2-0 and Malaysia 8-1 to set up a last-four clash with Belgium.
Belgium controversially ran out 3-2 winners with one of their goals hitting the body of a Belgian player before going in, though GB were unable to review the decision as it had already been replayed on the big screen.
That left Ralph’s side needing to beat Ireland in the bronze medal match after Spain beat Sean Dancer’s side 3-0 in a shootout in their semi-final after a 0-0 draw.
Jones scored the opening goal early in the second quarter before Katie Robertson’s first for Great Britain doubled the advantage early in the final period.
Hannah McLoughlin pulled one back for Ireland from an overtime penalty corner to halve the deficit but GB were able to book their ticket to the Games.
The International Hockey Federation (FIH), though, have apologised to Ireland after Ralph’s side fielded 12 players at one stage during their 2-1 victory.
A statement to The Hockey Paper read: “We are aware that for 50 seconds within the final two minutes in the third quarter of the FIH Hockey Women’s Olympic Qualifier match between Great Britain and Ireland held in Valencia on Saturday, Great Britain had 12 players on the field of play.
“This followed a multiple player substitution and was unfortunately not noticed by either team or the Technical Officials.
“The FIH expresses its apologies for this incident and a review is being conducted on the circumstances leading to the incident. According to the Tournament Regulations, such a machine incident cannot be protested or appealed.”
Women’s qualifiers: Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, Japan, China, France, Australia, Argentina, Great Britain, Spain, USA and South Africa
Pools for the Games have also been confirmed.
Men’s Pool A: Netherlands, Germany, Great Britain, Spain, France and South Africa
Men’s Pool B: Belgium, India, Australia, Argentina, New Zealand and Ireland
Women’s Pool A: Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, Japan, China and France
Women’s Pool B: Australia, Argentina, Great Britain, Spain, USA and South Africa