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New Delhi: China qualified for the Hockey World Cup for the first time ever after they pipped South Korea. China’s place was confirmed after South Korea’s 1-1 draw against Malaysia in the Asia Cup in Dhaka.
While China created history, it was a dark day for the South Korean team which will not be part of the World Cup for the first time since 1998 event in Utrecht, Netherlands. Under FIH regulations, the team that wins its continental qualifier automatically qualifies for the World Cup.
However, as both India, as hosts, and Malaysia – who finished fourth at the Hero Hockey World League Semi-Final in London earlier this year – have already qualified for next year?s showpiece, a World Cup qualification spot opened up for the team next in line that had not yet qualified for the event.
That team was China, who take the ticket to Bhubaneswar courtesy of their eighth place finish in the World League Semi-Final in London.
Korea finished one place below Asia rivals China at the World League event in London, a placement that was not going to be enough for a World Cup berth. Winning the Hero Asia Cup 2017 was Korea’s final chance to achieve World Cup qualification, but that dream was ended in heartbreakingly dramatic fashion.
A last-gasp penalty corner from Malaysia’s Faizal Saari tied the match at 1-1 to put the Malaysians into the championship match at the expense of Korea.
China is the 15th team to qualify for the World Cup, joining host India, Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Canada, England, Germany, Ireland, Malaysia, Netherlands, New Zealand, Pakistan, Spain and France at the prestigious 16 nation event.
The final men’s World Cup qualification place will be decided by the outcome of the Africa Cup of Nations competition, which takes place between October 22-29 in Ismailia, Egypt.
The Odisha Hockey Men’s World Cup in Bhubaneswar will be held at the Kalinga Stadium from November 28 to December 16, 2018.
(With PTI inputs)