As many as 16 nations are battling out in the 2018 edition of the Men’s Hockey World Cup at Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar. With two rounds of pool games already over, let’s take a look at how the 16 countries are placed in their respective pools and the qualification scenario for the quarters.
The International Hockey Federation (FIH) has introduced cross-over matches for the World Cup and according to the new format, 16 teams are divided into four pools. The pool toppers will make it to the quarter-finals directly while the teams finishing at the second and third positions in the pool will have to play the cross-over matches to qualify as the other four teams for the quarter-finals.
In case of a tie between two teams with the same points at the end of the pool stage then the number of matches won will be taken into consideration. If that remains the same then as per the FIH rule, goal difference will be calculated to find out which team is ahead of the other. Now, if goal difference is also the same then the number of goals scored and then the result of head to head matches will be taken into consideration. If all these scenarios remain the same they will go for the calculation of the number of field goals and then finally a shootout between the two teams will decide their position in the respective pools. Here are the scenarios for all the four pools in the World Cup.
Argentina is sitting pretty at top of the table in Pool A with two consecutive victories against Spain and New Zealand and is most likely to finish with another win as its last game is against France who is ranked 20 in the world. Now, there is a fight between three teams for two positions for the cross-over matches. New Zealand won against France by 2-1 goals while lost 0-3 to Argentina in the next match. If the game between New Zealand and Spain ends in a draw then both the teams will easily qualify for the next round and the same will happen if Spain wins it as well. It is expected to be a thrilling game as Spain and New Zealand are ranked eighth and ninth respectively and there is nothing to choose in between them.
In another case, Spain played a tie against France in the previous round and now both France and Spain are with one point each and defeats for both will take the goal difference calculations to find out the third team from the pool. Both Spain and France have the same goal difference so far and if that remains as it is at the end of today's matches then the number of goals scored will be calculated in which Spain is ahead of France by two goals.
Defending champions Australia are currently leading Pool B with two wins in first two rounds against Ireland and England. They will meet 17-ranked China in their last pool game and are certain to make it to the quarter-finals as the top team from the pool.
But, to everyone’s surprise, China is placed second by ensuring a tie against both England and Ireland. China now has two points and both the European countries are with one each. England and Ireland will play each other and the team which wins will surely make it to the cross-overs along with China and the other team will be knocked out of the competition.
In another scenario, if the game between England and Ireland ends in a tie then all the three teams in the pool apart from the Aussies will be on two points each and two teams with a better goal difference can only make it to the next round from Pool B. At this stage, both England and Ireland have negative goal difference while China’s difference is 0. Three teams finishing with same goal difference will take other calculations like
Hosts India is at the top of the table in the pool and they are ahead of Belgium thanks to the superior goal difference in favour of them. India and Belgium both have one win and one draw each. India thrashed South Africa 5-0 while Belgium got the better of Canada in the first game by 2-1 goals. As India and Belgium played a 2-2 draw in their second match they both have four points each from two matches. India now tops the table from the pool as they have a goal difference of five while Belgium has only one.
The direct qualification to the quarters from the group depends on both the matches to be played on December 8. India will take on Canada after the battle between Belgium and South Africa on the same day and if both India and Belgium win their respective matches then the goal difference will be an important factor to decide the pool topper to go directly into the quarter-finals while the other team will have to play the team finishing third from Pool D. This scenario is most likely to happen in the final round of the pool stage considering both South Africa (15) and Canada (11) are out of the top 10 in the FIH rankings. So, in this case, there will be a clash for the third place as well between South Africa and Canada and that will also be decided with the goal difference.
If the goal difference remains the same after the next two matches of the pool then the total number of goals scored will be calculated where India has got seven and Belgium has four. If at the end of the third round, India and Belgium are at the same position in terms of total goals scored then the number of field goals scored will be taken into account where again India is ahead so far as they have four field goals in comparison to three by the Red Lions.
Apart from that, if any team between India and Belgium plays a draw and the other team manages to win then it will directly book a place in the quarters and the other will finish at the second position. Both Canada and South Africa have not registered a single win so far in their first two matches. A draw or win for either of them in the last game against India and Belgium will give them a chance of playing the cross-over match as the team will finish at the second or third position of the pool. In this case, between Canada and South Africa, the team that loses will be knocked out of world cup and its opposition in the third game will get a direct ticket into the quarters and others will play the cross-over games.
In the group of death with four good teams, Germany is almost certain to play the quarter-finals directly as they have won both their matches against Pakistan and Netherlands. The Dutch are second with one win as they thrashed Malaysia 7-0 in their first game and are certain to make it to the cross-over stage if they beat Pakistan and Germany gets the better of Malaysia in the last two games of the pool on Sunday. This is the best case scenario as Germany and Netherlands are above Malaysia and Pakistan respectively in FIH rankings and if they perform to their full potential it will be really tough for the Asian teams to register a win against them. This will mean that Pakistan and Malaysia both will have one point each as their match against each other yesterday ended in a 1-1 draw. The goal difference will be taken into account where Pakistan is much ahead of Malaysia and are favourites to make it to the cross-over as the other team from the pool.