France qualify for Hockey World Cup after 28 years
France have qualified for the next edition of the men's Hockey World Cup in 2018 after a gap of 28 years thanks to favourable results at the Oceania Cup, International Hockey Federation (FIH) announced on Saturday.
France's place was confirmed when New Zealand defeated Pacific Islanders Papua New Guinea to set up an Oceania Cup final with Australia on Sunday, opening up a place for France in the World Cup.
The 16-nation event will be held in Bhubaneswar, India from November 28 to December 16, 2018.
Under FIH regulations, the team that wins its continental qualifier automatically qualifies for the World Cup. However, as both Australia and New Zealand have already qualified for next year's tournament in India thanks to their respective third and sixth place finishes at the Hockey World League (HWL) Semi-Final in Johannesburg earlier this year, a World Cup qualification spot opened up for France, who were next in line according to their performance at HWL Semis.
France, who are 16th in the FIH Hero World Rankings, finished seventh at the Hockey World League Semi-Final in Johannesburg in July thanks to a 3-0 victory over Egypt in their final game of the competition.
It left them third behind New Zealand and Pakistan - who were assured of World Cup places after results at the Pan American and European Continental Championships went their way -- in a list of countries waiting to learn their fate.
France are the 14th team to achieve the men's World Cup qualification, joining hosts India, Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Canada, England, Germany, Ireland, Malaysia, Netherlands, New Zealand, Pakistan and Spain at the prestigious 16-nation event.
France's previous appearance at a Hockey World Cup was in the 1990 event in Lahore. France participated in the inaugural event in 1971, achieving a fine seventh place finish in Barcelona, Spain before repeating the feat 19 years later in Lahore, where they also finished seventh.
The final two men's World Cup qualification places will be decided by the outcomes of the upcoming Continental Championship events in Asia -- currently taking place in Dhaka -- and Africa (October 22-29). - IANS