Hockey: New Zealand book a ticket for Paris 2024. FIH

Just two more tickets to Paris were up for grabs on the final day of the FIH Hockey 2024 Olympic Qualifiers in Valencia, Spain and Muscat, Oman on Sunday.

Both matches produced some exciting and compelling hockey, with all four teams going all out for their last chance to qualify for the Olympics. In the end, it was New Zealand who beat Pakistan in Muscat and Ireland who defeated Korea in Valencia to secure their places in Paris. 

The two tournament finals featured four teams that had already qualified for the Olympics, with world champions Germany scoring a late goal to beat Great Britain 1-0 in the final in Muscat.   

And in Valencia, it was Olympic champions Belgium who completed the double with a hard-fought 3-2 victory over hosts Spain, who had also won the women's title the day before.


As the men's tournament drew to a close in Valencia, all eyes were on the third-place play-off between Ireland and Korea for the tournament's final Olympic qualifying spot. 

Ireland withstood enormous pressure in a nail-biting encounter. Matthew Nelson opened the scoring after 14 minutes with a diving penalty corner deflection, and Ben Johnson added a stunning field goal five minutes later. Sunghyun Kim pulled one back for Korea soon after from a penalty corner, only for John McKee to double Ireland's lead with a field goal a minute later. 

Junwoo Jeong reduced Korea's deficit with a penalty corner just before half-time to make it 3-2l. Shane O'Donoghue added a penalty corner goal for Ireland in the 40th minute, but Korea hit back within a minute through Jonghyun Jang. 

Ireland will play at Paris 2024. FIH
Ireland will play at Paris 2024. FIH

The Koreans then piled on the pressure in search of an equaliser and took off their goalkeeper with three minutes remaining. But Ireland held on for a 4-3 victory to claim third place and book their ticket to Paris, while Korea's Olympic hopes were dashed.

Ireland captain and man of the match, Sean Murray, said: "I'm at a loss for words. Credit to Korea - they came out and it was a tough game. I've been on the other side of it this before where we've lost a game for the Olympics and now we get to feel what it's like to qualify, I can't put into words how proud I am of the team and just ecstatic." 

Later in the evening, Belgium had the upper hand in their tense final against Spain, but they were made to work for the full 60 minutes. Goalkeeper Luis Calzado was again outstanding for Spain, making three excellent saves in the first half alone to keep his team in the game. Tom Boon finally found the net for Belgium in the 23rd minute from a penalty corner after Calzado had saved the first shot and two rebounds.

In the bottom half of the log, it was Egypt who came from behind twice to beat Austria 4-3 and finish fifth, while Japan denied Viacheslav Paziuk his 100th cap for Ukraine with a 6-2 win to finish seventh.

Tournament awards: 

-Best player: Tom Boon (Belgium). 

-Top scorer (7 goals): Tom Boon (Belgium). 

-Best goalkeeper: Luis Calzado (Spain). 

-Best junior player: Yamato Kawahara (Japan).

Belgium took the first place in Valencia. FIH
Belgium took the first place in Valencia. FIH


Pakistan and New Zealand went were into the third-place play-off with their Paris ambitions hanging in the balance. The Oceanics enjoyed the better of the possession and territory against a hard-working Pakistani side, but they failed to convert their early chances. The Asians took the lead on 18 minutes when Abu Mahmood dragged the ball home. 

Scott Boyde scored for the Black Sticks on 24 minutes from the rebound of a penalty corner, but they conceded a penalty stroke from the restart and Mahmood made no mistake to restore Pakistan's lead. New Zealand looked to be in trouble until deep into the second half when Hugo Inglis levelled the scores at 2-2 on 52 minutes. 

Boyde then scored his second of the game with two minutes remaining to seal a dramatic 3-2 victory and the final Olympic berth of the tournament. 

Speaking after the match an, elated New Zealand captain, Nic Woods, said: "It's really crazy. All credit to the Pakistan boys today - they played out of their skins. It was such a challenge. It's been a tough 12 months for us, we've worked very hard to get to this point and we're thrilled to be at the Olympics."

Germany deservedly won the final against Great Britain after controlling the game. Goalkeepers James Mazarelo and Oliver Payne were outstanding for GB, who kept the Germans off the scoresheet until an action-packed fourth quarter. The 'Mannschaft' played with half-strength bench due to injuries sustained throughout the tournament, GB looked like they might be able to overrun the Germans with fresher legs when they got the green card in the 46th minute. 

'Die Mannschaft' was the best in Muscat. FIH
'Die Mannschaft' was the best in Muscat. FIH

However, the Brits failed to convert four penalty corners before Martin Zwicker put Germany ahead in the 56th minute with a penalty corner rebound. The Germans then held firm to prevent GB from scoring from five more penalty corners in the final minute to seal the 1-0 victory. 

While Germany climbed to the top of the podium and GB got what they wanted in terms of Olympic qualification, the British side will be looking for a necessary improvement in their penalty corner routine before they head to Paris. 

Both matches for the lower placings had to be decided by shootouts. Malaysia beat Canada for 5th place after there were no goals in regulation time (0-0) and Chile sneaked home against China for 7th place after the match ended 3-3.

Tournament awards: 

-Best player: Sam Ward (Great Britain). 

-Top scorer (8 goals): (Great Britain). 

-Best goalkeeper: Hafizuddin Othman (Malaysia). 

-Best junior player: Charlie Morrison (New Zealand).