SANTIAGO DE CHILE.- The comprehensive plan of the Argentine field hockey teams was completely fulfilled: yesterday, the Leonas defeated Chile and won the Pan American Cup. This Sunday, the Lions thrashed their trans-Andean peers 5-1 and won the same title as a visitor. But what is more important: both national teams got their ticket to their respective World Cups: they for the World Cup in Spain and the Netherlands, next July, and they for the appointment of Bhubaneswar and Rourkela, in January 2023.
The Lions, led by Mariano Ronconi, climbed to the top of the podium with a pure goal and forcefulness. And ratifying that in the continent there is a great distance between national hockey and that of the rest. Because in the final against Chile there was a landslide. And a huge celebration, thanks to the goals from Maico Casella (2), Santiago Tarazona, José Tolini and Martín Ferreiro.
Argentines and Chileans had faced each other in the group stage and the locals had been very close to achieving a historic victory. And a powerful blow. If out of 10 games between the two adversaries, one could be favorable to the Chileans, that should have been the 3-2. But it was not. And in the final there was no room for surprises, beyond the fact that in the first half no advantage was taken because the defenses were superior to the attacks and there was only one penalty corner in those first 30 minutes that Argentina could not take advantage of.
Until in the plugin everything was opened. And it was in a very short time. Because of the hand of Matías Rey in the middle (the MVP of the match was chosen), the Leones settled in the field and at 33 and 34 minutes Santiago Tarazona and Maico Casella scored to start putting numbers on an expected victory. Chile discounted at 11 with Felipe Renz’s fixed. But it was the only thing the loser could do against an opponent who threw the entire hierarchy at him in the last quarter. At 23 minutes Leandro Tolini increased with the penalty corner and at 26 and 30, Martín Ferreiro and Maico Casella (he was the Argentine top scorer in the tournament, with eight goals) put the final figures on the scoreboard.
The Lions, who had just defeated Canada 5-2 in one of the semifinals, won their fourth title in the Pan American Cup, after those achieved in London (Canada) 2004; Brampton (Canada) 2013 and Lancaster (USA) 2017. Meanwhile, the other titles went to Cuba (Havana, 2000) and Canada (Santiago de Chile, 2009), in competitions in which the Argentine teams qualified in the third placement, both times.
Now will come the commitment of the FIH Pro League, from February. In this way, the 2016 Olympic champion has already removed a backpack from above. With the Leonas it is the same scenario: they will be part of the Pro League and will continue training with the peace of mind that they will be at the top event this year.