Sports

Hockey Olympic Qualifiers: Battles for Tokyo 2020 start on Friday

By Rajan Nath -- October 24, 2019 4:10 pm -- Updated:Feb 15, 2021

Fourteen teams each, both in men's and women's sections, will join the do or die battles starting tomorrow to secure their berths in the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games. It is the first qualification process of its kind as the next two weekends (October 25-27 & November 1-3) will see some fascinating hockey matches.

The seven winning teams in each gender will join Japan men and women, who qualified as both hosts and as Asian champions. The other four continental champions are also qualified, namely Argentina men and women, South Africa men and women, Netherlands women, New Zealand women, Belgium men and Australia men.

Participants in the Olympic Qualifiers booked their places through one of three avenues: nations that finished first or second in the FIH Series Finals that took place earlier in the year; nations that finished in the top 4 of the inaugural FIH Pro League but did not win their Continental Championship; or by virtue of their FIH World Ranking.

Within each gender, the 14 teams have been drawn into seven pairs, and they will play a double header over two consecutive days with the scores from both matches added together. As French player Charles Masson pointed out: “It is two times 60 minutes, so we must be patient.”

The first weekend of action sees some interesting match-ups with much potential for upset. In the women's section, Australia will take on Russia and China plays Belgium. In the third game in women;s section, Spain has been drawn to play Korea. In the men's section, Spain has been drawn to face France while the Netherlands takes on Pakistan.

India starts its battle against Russia in men's section and face the US in women's section. Both these games will be played at Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneshwar on November 1 and 2. The visiting US women's hockey team played two Test matches against Canada. It lost one and won the other.  Canadian women will be playing Ireland in Dublin while Canadian men will play Ireland in Vancouver.
Interestingly, Pakistan trying to fight back for a place in Olympics, had some practice games against a visiting team from Oman. Before heading for Amsterdam where it will play the Netherlands, Pakistan stopped en route for two Test matches against Germany. Pakistan lost both the games 1-6 and 2-6.
Other Asian team in men's section , Malaysia, will play Great Britain in Great Britain on November 2 and 3.
Most of the teams featuring in Olympic Qualifiers played Test matches and also in multi-nation tournaments as a part of their final preparation for the Olympic Qualifiers. Spain played Argentina and Great Britain. New Zealand had games against Asian champions Japan.
-PTC News
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