Of the 36 sports being played at the 2018 Asian Games, Hockey is one of the more popular sports and commands a good amount of excitement and anticipation. Hockey has been played at the Asian Games since 1958 and has never been skipped in any edition. However, women’s hockey was only introduced in the 1982 edition in New Delhi.
The most successful hockey team in the men’s event at Asian Games has been Pakistan who have won eight gold medals in the 15 times that hockey has been played in the Asian Games. In the women’s event, South Korea have dominated with five gold medals in nine occasions.
Akin to previous years, hockey will be a crucial part of the 2018 Asian Games. The official schedule of the event has come out and the 2018 Asian Games Hockey events will be held from 19th August to 1st September 2018.
A total of twelve men’s and ten women’s teams will be competing in their respective categories. The first placed team at the Asian Games also gets automatic qualification for the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, as an additional incentive.
Hockey at Asian Games 2018 will be played at the GBK Hockey Field in the GBK Sports Complex, where the opening and closing ceremonies will also be held. The sports complex is located in the city of Jakarta. Built in 1960, the stadium underwent big renovations for the 18th Asian Games.
2018 Asian Games Hockey Groups
The event will have two rounds, a preliminary round involving two pools of teams who will play each other in a round robin format followed by an elimination round between the teams with the most points.
The two pools for the men’s event are:-
Pool A (MA) - India, Korea, Japan, Sri Lanka, Hong Kong
Pool B (MB) - Malaysia, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Oman, Thailand, Indonesia (hosts)
The two pools for the women’s event are:-
Pool A (WA) - China, Japan, Malaysia, Hong Kong China, Chinese Taipei
Pool B (WB) - Korea, India, Thailand, Kazakhstan, Indonesia
India are the defending champions in the men’s event and are in pole position to defend their title, despite history being against them. They are the highest ranked team in Asia and will be looking to ride on their success in the FIH Champions Trophy, where they defeated higher ranked teams like Argentina and Belgium, but only lost to Australia in the finals by a whisker in the penalty shootout.
In the women’s event, hosts South Korea are close favourites to defend the title but they will have to overcome powerhouse China, who have been performing really well in the international circuit. After the 2018 Women’s Hockey World Cup, the Indian women’s team will be a tough challenge for Korea.