HOCKEY WORLD CUP 2018
They are certainly not as feted as the ‘Les Bleus’ but the French hockey team is expecting that a quarter-final berth will usher a new era going into the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris. The 5-3 upset win over Olympic champions Argentina in the ongoing men’s World Cup has been the catalyst for a ‘French Revolution’ in an unchartered territory. Returning to the FIH World Cup after a hiatus of 28 years, France, the lowest ranked side in the competition at 20, has already raised expectations back home and will like to carry the momentum during the last eight phase. France will next play world no. 17 China in the cross-overs on Monday and going by their form, they are expected to reach the quarterfinals, where a stern test awaits them in the form of twotime defending champions and world no.1 Australia. But ask the France team management, they will happily admit that they have already surpassed expectations here and the team is on the right track towards its “Ambition Hockey 2024” project.
“We have showed that with our work that even if you don’t have 100,000 hockey players, you can still achieve a dream — to reach the next round after beating Olympic champions (Argentina) at a World Cup,” France’s coach Jeroen Delmee, a two-time Olympic gold medallist with the Netherlands, said. “It is a dream come true moment for everyone. This is a confidence booster which French hockey needed. It is a historic result and this can change the fortunes of country’s hockey,” he told PTI after the win over Argentina. With France hosting the 2024 Olympics, the French Hockey Federation (FFH) has launched a programme “Ambition Hockey 2024” in its bid to make its national hockey teams a force to reckon with in the quadrennial event in front of home crowd. As per aims of the programme, which has been inspired by the Belgium hockey team’s success, France expects its men’s team to finish in top five and the women’s team in top 10 in 2024 Paris Olympics. “As FFH President (Olivier Moreau) said earlier, we want to be competitive in 2024 Olympics. We just don’t want to make numbers, we want to give tough fight to our opponents and finish at good position,” the coach said
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