Indian hockey all set for an action packed 2018
With a FIH Hockey World League Final bronze medal and the Asia Cup in their kitty, an upbeat Indian men's hockey team is now all set for an action packed 2018, where both their strength and their determination will be put to a good test.
The year will commence with the Hockey India League, the domestic league for Indian hockey. It will serve as a good warmup for the first major challenge, i.e. the Commonwealth Games, where the men's team will look forward to changing the colour of their silver medal into gold.
The Games, which will be held in Gold Coast, Australia from 4th to 15th of April, has India playing their archrivals Pakistan in their very first match of Pool B on 7th of April, and later on they will be competing with teams such as England, Malaysia and Wales in order to make the cut for the semi-finals.
The women's team, on the other hand, will open their account against Wales on 5th of April, and will further compete against teams like Malaysia, South Africa and the current Olympic champions, England, in order to make the cut for the semi-finals.
Buoyant by their recent win at the Asia Cup, the women's team will look forward to carrying on that form at the Asian Champions Trophy, which will be held at the Donghae City, South Korea from 13th-20th May. This tournament will be highly beneficial for the women's team, who will get the right warmup needed for their ultimate tryst with glory at the FIH Women's Hockey World Cup, to be held from July 21 to 5 August.
On the other hand, the men's hockey team will aim to convert their historic silver into a brilliant gold, as they prep up for the final edition of the FIH Men's Hockey Champions Trophy, to be held in Breda, Netherlands from June 23rd to July 1st, provided they make the cut.
Asian Games performance crucial for Olympic qualification
Later on, the two Indian teams will be up in action at the 18th Asian Games, to be held in Jakarta from 18th August to 2nd of September. This is extremely important for both the teams, as the winner of this tournament gets to be the first hockey team, apart from hosts Japan, to qualify directly for Tokyo Olympics, 2020. India, whose men's team had made the cut in style at Incheon 2014, will be looking forward to repeating the feat again.
It's too early to talk about the Youth Olympics, but if the Indian colts make the cut, they have a golden opportunity of creating history at the Youth Olympics, to be held at Buenos Aires, Argentina, from 6th to 18th October. The Indian team will play in the Hockey 5s segment, which is a competition where 5 players a side compete for the ultimate goal: a podium finish.
Post the Asian Games, and possibly an Asian Champions Trophy, the final showdown for the Indian men will be the much-touted FIH Men's Hockey World Cup. It will be played for the first time on a blue turf, in the 4 quarter format, and at the same venue where India has just won a bronze medal in the FIH Hockey World League Final, i.e. Kalinga Stadium, Bhubaneswar.
With such a power-packed 2018, and some Bollywood biopics set for release, one seriously hopes that Indian hockey has the desired dream run in 2018.