France have been in hibernation at the world stage in men's field hockey. The European nation's previous appearance at the Summer Olympics in hockey came way back in 1972. They last played in a World Cup in 1990 and they last earned a place in the Champions Trophy back in 1992.
However in 2018, France, ranked last (20th) in the FIH Men's Hockey standings, have managed to punch above their weight and end their World Cup exile. With the 2018 World Cup being expanded to 16 teams, France had a shot of qualifying for the Finals through the FIH World Hockey Series Semi-finals.
France were placed in Pool A of the Johannesburg leg, where they managed to qualify for the quarter-finals ahead of higher-ranked Japan. The French started the Pool with a morale-boosting 3-3 draw with New Zealand before going on to stun Japan 4-1. Despite losing 4-1 to Germany in the quarters, France managed to thump Egypt 3-0 in the 7th place playoff to sneak in a berth at the World Cup.
The French face a tall order in Group A where they are up against Olympic champions Argentina, Spain, and New Zealand, but their draw against New Zealand last year means they are not a team to be taken lightly. The Jeroen Delmee-coached outfit has been having a good run of late, having beaten South Africa, ranked seven places above them in the FIH rankings, on three occasions this year.
Delmee may not have a wealth of experience as a coach, but he was a decorated player for The Netherlands. Part of the gold-medal winning teams at the 1996 and 2000 Summer Olympics, Delmee was The Netherlands' flagbearer at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
Victor Charlet and Timothee Clement have been among the goals lately for France and would hope to continue that run in Bhubaneswar later this month. Pieter van Straaten, Tom Genestet, Hugo Geneste, Blaise Rogeau and Francois Goyet are the other key players in the French squad.
Nobody expects France to qualify out their group, nor beat their best-ever finish (7th) at the World Cup. The Bhubaneswar event would be considered a success for the French if they can compete well in their group games and maybe cause an upset or two.
France Squad for 2018 Hockey World Cup: Artur Thieffry, Corentin Saunier, Pieter van Straaten, Tom Genestet, Hugo Genestet, Blaise Rogeau, Victor Lockwood, Charles Masson, Nicolas Dumont, Gaspard Baumgarten, Francois Goyet, Cristoforo Peters-Duetz, Jean-Baptiste Forgues, Etienne Tynevez, Victor Charlet, Aristide Coisne, Maximillien Branicki, Timothee Clement
Head Coach: Jeroen Delmee
For the rest of the profiles of teams in the Hockey World Cup 2018, click here.
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Updated Date: Nov 23, 2018 20:09:47 IST