Ireland and France advance in HWL in Johannesburg

©: World Sport Pics

Ireland and France earned their places in the quarter-finals of the Hockey World League Semi-Finals courtesy of their wins over Egypt and Japan, respectively.

The Irish left it late but eventually beat Egypt 2-1, coming from a goal down courtesy of second half goals from Chris Cargo and Shane O’Donoghue two minutes from the end.

It added to an earlier win over Sout Africa and ensures they will go into next Wednesday’s quarter-finals.

“It was tricky and things didn’t go as we would have liked,” O’Donoghue said afterwards. “The big thing was we kept our composure when it counted. The basics weren’t there and there were lots of simple errors but it is great to fight back and be able to get the win.

“Our defence was superb today right the way up from our goalkeeper. We know it was far from our best [up the field]. The second half, we came out nice and calm, trying to build more phases and genuine chances to score.”

For the former Dragons’ man, O’Donoghue had put the ball in the goal a minute earlier only to see his effort disallowed for a back-stick. He admitted he knew as soon as the decision went to video that it would not stand.

“I knew straight away it was back-stick! It’s the way things go; the game was quite tense toward the end and you want to get that shot away nice and quick. But we got that win and are on to the next game.”

The result also had the upshot of formally sending Belgium through to the quarter-finals following their big wins over Egypt and Ireland.

In the other group, France beat Japan 4-1 with goals from Etienne Tynevez, Gaspard Baumgarten, Francois Goyet and Blaise Rogeau.

Racing Club de France’s Simon Martin-Brisac was delighted with the result: “We are very happy; we wanted to get that win after two good games against New Zealand and Australia.

“Now we have four points and have Spain next who we will go all out to win to help our tournament. We are enjoying playing some good hockey.”

Australia beat Spain 2-0 to go through to the quarters, too, while New Zealand advance as a result of the day’s action. Spain need to get a point against either France or New Zealand to rubber-stamp their place in the knock-out stages.