PHOTO: Canada’s Olympic men’s field hockey team during the Canadian national anthem at the 2016 Olympic GAmes in Brazil (By Yan Huckendubler)
Canada’s men’s field hockey team takes on Ireland in both teams’ fourth pool match at the 2016 Olympic Games in Brazil on Thursday (7:00am PT/10:00am ET, Sportsnet, olympics.cbc.ca).
The match has heavy implications on the final Pool B standings and both teams’ chances of advancing to the knockout stage.
Canada and Ireland are both winless through the first three games and sit in the bottom two spots in Pool B, with Ireland holding the 5th place tie-breaker on goal differential.
With Argentina currently in the fourth spot with four points, Canada still has a chance to advance to the quarterfinal round, but to do so it will need at least four points from its last two games.
In Thursday match against Ireland, Canada – ranked 15th in the world – faces a team which it has seen in action quite recently.
Canada visited Belfast and Dublin in June for four test matches against the 12th ranked Irish, which resulted in three losses and one draw.
The Canadians were encouraged by their continued improvement in each of those matches, and that form was reflected in the following days, when it went on to draw two of three games against higher ranked Spain.
Ireland has shown well at these Olympic games, despite the 0W-3L record through its first matches, setting up for what will likely be a heated match on Thursday. From the outset of the tournament both nations had surely targeted Thursday’s match as a key game and best chance to get in the win column.
After facing Ireland, Canada will then take on 5th ranked India in its final preliminary round match on Friday (8:30am PT/11:30am ET, Sportsnet, olympics.cbc.ca), while Ireland faces Argentina.
Two wins from its final two games will give Canada the best chance to advance to the next round. With a maximum of six points possible, Canada would then need Argentina – which faces Ireland and Germany in its final two matches – to take no more than 3 points from its last two games.