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Tokyo Olympics 2020: Task cut out for men - but a formidable challenge for Indian women as hockey pools announced

FEATURED COLUMNIST
News
Modified 21 Dec 2019, 01:08 IST

Can the Indian men qualify for a second successive Olympic quarterfinal?
Can the Indian men qualify for a second successive Olympic quarterfinal?

The hockey pools have been announced for the Tokyo Olympics 2020- and while the Indian men's team will not have it easy, the Indian eves are faced with an arduous task and will have to play out of their skins if they are to stand a chance of making it to the quarterfinals.

Indian men eye second successive Olympic quarterfinal berth

Graham Reid's boys have been placed alongside Australia, Argentina, Spain, New Zealand, and Japan, and will fancy their chances of qualifying for the quarterfinals as they did at Rio 2016.

Manpreet Singh and co. do have Rio gold-medalists Argentina to contend with, but the South Americans have not been in the best form, of late, especially with Gonzalo Peillat - one of the architects of the 2016 Olympic triumph - being in and out of the team.

Argentina failed to make it to the top four in the Pro League earlier this year - this, after a disappointing Champions Trophy and World Cup campaign in 2018, but the Los Leones do have it in them to come good on the biggest stage of all.

The Australians, who are involved in a see-saw battle with Belgium to establish themselves as the top team in the world were in prime form as they lifted the inaugural Pro League title earlier this year and, needless to say, begin as one of the favourites as they look to overturn a disappointing Olympic record.

As the kookaburras chase their second gold, eight-time Olympic champions India will look to finish ahead of Spain, New Zealand, and Japan in Pool A.

Back in 2016, the Indians under the tutelage of Roelant Oltmans created history by qualifying for the Olympic quarterfinals after a gap of 36 years but went down to eventual silver-medalists Belgium in the last-eight clash.

Pool B consists of World Champions Belgium, Netherlands, Germany, Great Britain, Canada, and South Africa.

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Indian eves find themselves in a tough pool

The Indian girls, meanwhile, find themselves in the same pool as World Champions, the Netherlands, World Cup silver-medalists Ireland, defending champions Great Britain, Germany, and South Africa.

No team in the world has dominated women's hockey the way the Dutch have in recent times - a fact that coach Coach Sjoerd Marijne is well aware of.

The Dutchman, who had a brief stint with the Netherlands' women's side before moving to India will also have to take on World Cup giant-killers Ireland who proved to be India's nemesis at London 2018.

The Indian women's team will also need to get the better of Germany and Great Britain who will have the advantage of honing their skills in the Pro League ahead of the Olympics next year. a

China and Japan - the other Asian teams in the women's competition are in Pool B along with Australia, Argentina, New Zealand, and Spain.


Published 24 Nov 2019, 11:21 IST
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