The Tokyo Olympics are just a few months away. With less than 100 days left, the hype has started to build on every sportsperson who is scheduled to take the flight to Tokyo. Postponed for a year due to COVID-19, the Tokyo Olympics is starting on July 23.
The Indian men’s field hockey team is the most successful side in the history of the Summer Olympics. With eight gold medals to their name, India have been a dominant force from 1928 to 1980. However, India’s performances have deteriorated since then with no medals in the last forty years.
With the kind of form the Men in Blue are in at the moment, one can expect India to bring silverware from the sports' grandest stage. India secured their place at the Tokyo Olympics after thrashing Russia 11-3 in the 2019 FIH Olympic Qualifiers in Bhubaneswar.
Since then, the Graham Reid-coached side have been at their best, losing just two games out of the eight they have played in the ongoing FIH Pro League – which included winning both the games against 2016 Olympic Champions Argentina and reigning world champion Belgium. They also remained unbeaten on the European tour.
Placed fifth in the world rankings, India have been clubbed in Pool A with Argentina, Australia, New Zealand, Spain and hosts Japan. The top four teams in the group will qualify for the quarterfinals. With less than 100 days until the Tokyo Olympics, Sportskeeda takes a look at Argentina first, in the Know Your Opponent series.
Argentina were never a force to be reckoned with on the world stage until 2014 when they took the World Cup bronze defeating England 2-0. Boosted by their maiden World Cup medal, the Latin American side made rapid strides as they went on to become the first team from the country to win an Olympic gold.
Goalkeeper Juan Vivaldi has been one of Argentina's longest-serving soldiers, serving his country for more than 20 years. At 41 years old, Vivaldi has played 286 games so far and is still going strong alongside the likes of skipper Pedro Ibarra and Matias Rey. Lucas Mila and Juan Martin Lopez are the other stalwarts in the side.
Qualification to Tokyo Olympics
Argentina secured their place for the Tokyo Olympics after they were crowned 2019 Pan American Champions. Placed in Group A, Los Leones gained maximum points in the round-robin stage, including a massive 9-0 thrashing of Cuba.
Argentina continued their red-hot form in the knockouts too, starting with a 14-1 pummeling of Peru in the quarterfinals. Considered as one of title contenders, USA too fell prey to Argentine dominance, losing 0-5 in the semifinals. In the final, Argentina defeated Canada 5-2 to book their ticket to Tokyo.
With the COVID-19 pandemic making its way, most of the teams have been depending on the FIH Pro League for top-notch competition as preparation for Tokyo Olympics. There are exposure tours too. Argentina’s record in the FIH Pro League doesn’t look good.
In the 12 matches they have played so far, Argentina have managed just two wins, losing six and are placed in the bottom half of the standings. Argentina are placed sixth on the nine-team ladder with 11 points. They have also conceded 35 goals in reply to the 26 scored.
After losing their FIH Pro League double header against Germany earlier in the month, Argentina once again succumbed to two more FIH Pro League defeats recently, this time at the hands of India. Surely, the management has to look into their performances ahead of the Tokyo Olympics if they have to retain the crown.