The Irish women’s seventh place finish at the Hockey World League Semi-Final sees them third on the list of sides waiting to find out whether they qualify for the 2018 World Cup.
So, what exactly needs to happen for Ireland to reach the marquee competition for the first time since 2002?
Currently, the top five finishers in the two World League Semi-Finals qualified automatically for London 2018. There are Netherlands, China, New Zealand, Korea and Australia from the tournament in Brussels and USA, Germany, England, Argentina and South Africa.
With England also hosting in 2018, this meant the next best place side of the World League finishers – Japan – are also assured of their place at the World Cup.
The final five places will go to the continental champions from their respective tournaments which take place between August and early November. If the continental champion already has a place at the World Cup, the next best placed side on the World League list will be elevated.
Currently, Italy are first in line to take up the next ticket that becomes available with Spain next and then Ireland. Here’s the breakdown of when and how the next few months pan out.
– Pan-Am Cup, August 5-13, 2017 – should either Argentina (3) or USA (4) win, the next side on the World League will earn a World Cup place. Potential upsets? Canada (19), Chile (20) and Uruguay (23) are the hopefuls but would be a massive outside chance
– EuroHockey Championships, August 18-26 – Netherlands (1), England (2), Germany (7) already qualified; should Ireland (16) win the tournament, they qualify automatically; a Spain (10) win is not disastrous either as it moves Ireland a place up World League list. As such, the only bad outcome from this tournament is a tournament win for either Belgium (14), Scotland (17) or Czech Republic (24).
– African Cup of Nations, October 19-29 – South Africa (13) are qualified via the World League and have won the last six editions. Next best placed is Ghana (32).
– Oceania Cup, October 9-15 – Australia (5) and New Zealand (6) are qualified. Currently only world number 50 side Papua New Guinea are listed as entering. They would need to beat both sides… this is a banker for an extra World League spot.
– Asia Cup, October 28 to November 5 – China (8), Korea (9) and Japan (11) are qualified; this is perhaps the most up for grabs tournament with India (12) and Malaysia (21) the sides with a chance of upsetting Ireland’s chances.
From those tournaments, three of these outcomes need to work out in Ireland’s favour and hand the side their first ticket to the World Cup since 2002.