Tokyo Olympics 2020: Indian women to face USA, men up against Russia in Olympic qualifiers
While the Indian women's team have a task on their hands, their male counterparts will be expected to breeze through their Olympic qualifier playoffs after the announcement of the draw which was held in Lausanne today.
The Indian men were placed alongside the Netherlands and Germany which comprised Pot 1 featuring the top-ranked sides in the competition all of whom faced the prospect of being drawn alongside the lowest-ranked sides which included Pakistan, Austria, and Russia in Pot 4.
The Indians girls who had fallen one slot earlier this year regained their best-ever ninth ranking after the FIH announced the revised rankings following the Oceania Games yesterday. The Golden Girls found themselves placed alongside Spain, Ireland, and China and faced the prospect of being pitted against Korea, Belgium, USA or Canada.
The process began with the draw for the women as a result of which the Indian girls will be up against the USA - a team they drew against at last year's World Cup. The USA is currently ranked 13th and Sjoerd Marijne's chargers will need to be at their best against the American girls who had a disappointing Pro League season earlier this year.
The Indian men will face Russia - a team they walloped by a 10-0 margin at the FIH Series Finals in Bhubaneswar in June. The qualifiers will involve two back to back matches with the winners booking a ticket to Tokyo 2020.
Hockey fans who were looking forward to an India-Pakistan clash in the qualifiers were disappointed as FIH CEO Thierry Weil announced the fixtures at Lausanne. Pakistan will take on the Netherlands in the qualifiers which promises to be a mouth-watering contest.
Both the Indian men and women will play their qualifiers on home soil as per the FIH rules which stated that the higher-ranked teams will host the lower-ranked teams during the qualifiers.
The Indian men retained their fifth position as per the FIH world rankings and are effectively the second-ranked side in the Olympic qualifiers after the Netherlands who are ranked third in the world.