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Hockey Olympic Qualifiers: Preview, draw analysis, and match schedule

ANALYST
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267   //    11 Sep 2019, 13:56 IST

Indian players at the Olympics Test Event in Tokyo.
Indian players at the Olympics Test Event in Tokyo.

The Indian men's and women's hockey teams will have a last chance to secure a berth for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics at the Qualifiers event, to be played on Bhubaneswar in November this year. Both sides had earlier missed out on the chance to qualify as continental champions, after having come up short at last year's Asian Games.

The Olympic Qualifiers, which will feature the top 14 teams who have yet not qualified for Tokyo are scheduled to be played in late October and November this year. Both the Indian men's and women's team have earned a seeding for the event, based on their current world rankings.

Men's draw

The men's team have been seeded second and will take on a lower-ranked Russian side. The teams will play two back-to-back matches to determine the winner of tie.


Manpreet Singh is most likely to lead India in another crucial series.
Manpreet Singh is most likely to lead India in another crucial series.

Schedule: November 1 and 2 

Venue: Kalinga Stadium, Bhubaneswar

Analysis: As the second highest seed in the Qualifier, India has been handed an easy draw. At 22, Russia is the lowest ranked team participating in the qualification event.

The Indian team has a great record against the Russian side. The last time the two teams was in the FIH Series Finals in Bhubaneswar itself, in June this year. India routed the visiting team with a scoreline of 10-0 in that encounter.

The Russian side does not have a lot going for them in the current scenario either. They event form fails to inspire much confidence, nor does their overall record on the big stage.

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They even failed to make the cut for the event this year It was only after the last minute withdrawal of the Egyptian team that they were accommodated in the draw.

That said, the Indian team still has to play disciplined hockey, but should not have too much trouble making the cut.

Women's draw

The women's team has been seeded sixth in the event and have drawn the 13th ranked side, USA. The teams will also play back-to-back matches to determine the qualification spot.


Rani Rampal will be leading the women's side against a tricky opponent.
Rani Rampal will be leading the women's side against a tricky opponent.

Schedule: November 1 and 2 

Venue: Kalinga Stadium, Bhubaneswar

Analysis: The Indian team has been pitted against a tricky opponent in form of USA for the qualification event. As the sixth seeds, the side could have drawn one of the three difficult teams—USA, Belgium, or Korea (apart from a more benign Canada).

While India has had encouraging results against Korea and Belgium at continental and junior tournaments respectively, their record against the American team is not the strongest.

The Indian eves had lost a 3-0 encounter against the USA at 2016 Olympics, but the two teams have had opposite trajectories ever since. While the USA has lost their Pan American title, had a slip in form and rankings, the Indian eves have taken a more aggressive approach to their game, reached a World Cup quarterfinal, and become a stable part of the top ten rankings.

Also, their last couple of matches have been close and ended in draws. That does not take away from the fact that USA is one the toughest opponents that the Indian side could have drawn and the women will have to be at their very best to secure wins against the former world and Olympic medalists.

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