Over 30 EHL-bound players help Olympic qualification

Over 30 EHL-bound players have already helped their nations qualify for the Olympic Games this week as Belgium’s men and women, Spain’s men and women and Germany’s Danas all booked their place in Paris.

And there is likely to be more to follow over the course of the week with teams from Germany, Great Britain and Ireland still in contention across the remaining competitions in Valencia and Muscat.

In Valencia, the home hosts edged out Ireland’s women in a shoot-out after a hard-fought scoreless draw. The celebrations began via an audacious lob from Club de Campo’s Maria Lopez.

She was joined in her team’s line-up by club mates Laura and Sara Barrios, Begoña Garcia, Belen Iglesias, Bea Perez, Alejandra Torres-Quevedo and Maria Tello as well as Junior FC’s Julia Strappato and Laia Vidosa and Mannheimer HC’s Lucia Jimenez.

Later on the same day, Belgium’s Red Panthers won through to Paris with a 3-2 win over Great Britain. Gantoise’s Barbara Nelen scored a beauty to kickstart the victory and she was joined in the line-up by team mates Alix Gerniers, Ambre Ballenghien, Michelle Struijk, and Hélène Brasseur.

In Ranchi, meanwhile, Germany edged out the Indian hosts in their semi-final to secure their spot at the Olympics. It came via a shoot-out, beautifully finished off with a double-nutmeg from Lisa Nolte, shooting through her own legs and those of Savita in sudden death.

And they crowned their week with a gold medal when they defeated USA 2-0 in the final with AH&BC Amsterdam’s Sonja Zimmerman on target from a corner. Mannheim’s Pauline Heinz is another EHL-set player involved with Die Danas.

On Friday, another large batch of players from EHL FINAL8 clubs helped their nations to reach the big stages.

Spain’s men had the edge over Ireland in their showdown. More than half of their line-up will play at Easter in the Wagener Stadium with Polo’s Luis Calzado, Marc Recasens and Marc Reyne and Campo’s Quique Gonzalez, Rafael Vilallonga, Alvaro Iglesias, Jose Basterra, Rafael Revila, Ignacio Rodriguez and Alvaro Portugal all in the mix.

Vilallonga broke the deadlock in the third quarter before Marc Miralles made the game safe in a 2-0 result.

For Belgium’s Red Lions, they were too good for Korea and eventually pulled away in a 4-0 victory. Pinoké’s Florent van Aubel swept home the second goal while Royal Léopold’s Tom Boon put the game further out of sight with the third goal.

Van Aubel’s fellow Pinoké man Alexander Hendrickx and Léo’s Gauthier Boccard were other key figures in their success.

Saturday sees the end of the women’s qualifiers with the key game between Ireland and Great Britain in Valencia.

The semi-finals are on in Oman where Great Britain’s men face New Zealand having topped their initial group as did Germany who will meet Pakistan.

On Sunday, the final qualifier places will be complete with Ireland playing Korea’s men in Valencia and the losers from Oman’s semi-finals facing off.

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