Hockey fans in Santiago enjoyed a sizzling six days of hockey during which two men’s and two women’s teams sealed their places at the Hockey Series Finals in 2019.
And it was a double celebration for the host nation as Chile men and women both put in excellent performances throughout the competition to remain unbeaten to become champions in their respective competitions.
In the men's competition Brazil (FIH Hero World Ranking: 26) had sat in top spot until the final game but a strong and composed performance by Chile (WR:34) saw them beat their higher-ranked opponents by a 3-2 scoreline.
In the women’s competition, Chile were dominant throughout, although fans will have thoroughly enjoyed the final match as two old rivals – Uruguay and Chile – did battle for the top spot.
Brazil men have really capitalised on the experience they enjoyed in 2016 when, as host of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, they played against some of the best teams in the world. The experience has led to the Brazilian players playing their own game at a far higher tempo – something with which the other competitors in Santiago struggled to contend with.
Brazil got the men's competition off to a flying start as they hammered 22 goals past unranked Bolivia in the opening game. Their subsequent three games were not so prolific but they still scored another 15 goals and took maximum points into their final game against Chile (WR:34).
The host nation had also gone through the event unbeaten, including a 27-0 win against Bolivia. They went into the final game of the round-robin just behind Brazil on points courtesy of a 0-0 draw with Uruguay (WR:46).
The final was an exciting and tightly fought affair between two teams determined to end the event on a winning note. Sven Richter got Chile off to the perfect start in the 11th minute when he managed to evade the Brazilian defence to put the host nation ahead.
The lead was doubled in the final quarter when Nicolas Renz found the net from a penalty corner and the game looked beyond doubt as Franco Becerra made it 3-0.
However, Brazil fought back in the final five minutes with two goals in quick succession from Lucas Paixo. Unfortunately for Brazil it was too little too late and Chile took the three points and the top spot in the competition.
Unsurprisingly, given their high scoring start to the competition, Brazil’s players dominated the goals table, with Lucas Paixo leading on 14 goals; Matheus Borges scored eight and Joaquin Lopez followed on seven.
The women’s final round of matches saw Paraguay (WR:58) cement their place at third in the table after they beat Brazil (WR:37) by a comprehensive 4-0 scoreline. The Paraguay team will be pleased with their performance over the event. Their third place finish included wins over Peru and Brazil – both higher ranked teams. Peru (WR:39) and unranked Bolivia then played out an intense match to see who would avoid sixth place. On this occasion Peru proved the stronger, emerging as 2-0 winners.
The final match would decide who took top spot and it was a real tussle between two teams who had both cruised through the event unbeaten. Chile (WR:16) went into the match with a goal difference advantage over Uruguay (WR:24) but both teams had been head and shoulders above their rivals – it was simply a question of whose nerve would hold in the final match.
In the event, the result went with the rankings and Head Coach Diego Amoroso will have been pleased with the way his team withstood the Uruguay pressure. Fernanda Villagran scored the only goal of the game to give Chile the win.
The leading goal scorer for the women’s event was Chile’s Maria Maldonado, who finished the competition on 12 goals.
Chile’s men’s and women’s teams, plus Brazil men and Uruguay women will now appear at one of three Hockey Series Finals which will be played in 2019, offering berths into the Olympic Qualification Events.
Each of these Hockey Series Finals will consist of eight teams and will take place throughout the world.
For detailed information about the Hockey Series Finals and Olympic Qualification, visit the Q&A page on the FIH website .