Austria and Wales were the outstanding teams at the third International Hockey Federation (FIH) Hockey Series Open which took place from 25-30 June in Zagreb, Croatia. Both teams now progress to the prestigious Hockey Series Finals, which take place in 2019.
Michael Korper of Austria and Gareth Furlong of Wales mirrored their team’s performances as they finished first and second respectively at the top of the goal scoring statistics. Korper fired ten goals in total and Furlong scored nine.
Wales, who are ranked 24 on the FIH Hero World Rankings, opened the tournament with a 6-1 win over Slovakia (WR:50), but the good start to their campaign ended abruptly the following day at the hands of Austria (WR:19). The higher ranked team took the lead through Dominic Uher, while Michael Korper scored two penalty corners to open his impressive goal scoring account.
Austria then faced a tricky encounter with the host nation Croatia (WR:41). They took an early 3-0 lead, with Korper again scoring a brace, but Croatia fought back with goals from Maximilian Bachmann and Josip Krleza. It was 3-2 with a quarter of the match left and Croatia piled on the pressure, but a yellow card for Krleza in the 52nd minute meant their challenge fizzled out as Austria’s defence held firm.
Both Wales and Austria then started to pull clear of the other three teams. Austria beat Switzerland (WR:28) 8-0 and Slovakia 15-1; while Wales beat the Swiss team 7-1 and Croatia 9-0.
In the final standings Croatia finished in third place as they beat both Switzerland 2-0 and Slovakia 6-1. Both Bachmann and Krleza continued to impress with their goal scoring skills as they picked up two goals apiece against the Slovakian team.
Switzerland beat Slovakia in a tense 2-1 encounter, meaning Slovakia lost all four of their matches and so finished the tournament in fifth place.
The event in Zagreb was the second men’s event in the Hockey Series Open, with others taking place across the world over the coming weeks.
This stage of the FIH's new Hockey Series is the first step towards Olympic qualification for participating teams. Austria and Wales join USA and Mexico, who qualified from the first men's Hockey Series Open event in Salamanca, Mexico.
The Hockey Series Open is continuing in Singapore where six men’s teams and six women’s teams are competing. The Singapore event finishes on 1 July and the action then continues in Wattignies, France between 6-8 July when four more women’s teams start their exciting journey towards the Hockey Series Finals and the opportunity to qualify for Tokyo 2020.
Relive the action from Hockey Series Open on FIH Youtube.
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