LAUSANNE: Pakistan men’s hockey team have become the latest team to qualify for the Odisha Hockey Men's World Cup Bhubaneswar 2018.
The Green Shirts, currently ranked 14th in the FIH Hero World Rankings, finished in seventh position in the Hero Hockey World League Semi-Final in London, meaning they faced an anxious wait to see if that was good enough to earn them qualification to the blue riband event that takes place in India next year from 28 November to 16 December.
The results at the Rabobank EuroHockey Championships, which are currently taking place in Amsterdam, Netherlands, have gone very much in favour of Pakistan, with all four of the semi-finalists having already qualified for the World Cup via the Hockey World League route.
Under FIH regulations, the team that wins its continental qualifier automatically qualifies for the World Cup. However, the semi-finals of the European continental qualifier will be contested by Germany, England, Netherlands and Belgium, teams that have already achieved World Cup qualfication thanks to top five finishes in the Hockey World League Semi-Finals. This means that the World Cup ticket goes to the highest placed finisher from the Hockey World League Semi-Finals that has not already achieved World Cup qualification. Pakistan are the higher ranked of the two seventh place finishers from the Hockey World League Semi-Final events that took place in London and Johannesburg, with 16th ranked France next in line for that all-important World Cup ticket.
Pakistan become the 13th team to qualify for next year's global showpiece, joining host nation India, Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Canada, England, Germany, Ireland, Malaysia, Netherlands, Spain and New Zealand. They have an envious record in the competition, having claimed the title on four occasions, more than any other nation. It is a welcome return to World Cup action for this famous hockey playing nation, following their failure to qualify for the Rabobank Hockey World Cup 2014, which was played in The Hague, Netherlands.
The final three men's World Cup qualification places will be decided by the outcomes of the upcoming Continental Championship events in Oceania (9-15 October 2017), Asia (17-22 October 2017), and Africa (19-29 October 2017).