India were Monday placed in a relatively easy group in the International Hockey Federation (FIH) Series Finals, the first-round qualifiers for the 2020 Olympics, and will play their matches in Bhubaneswar from June 6 to 16.
The FIH confirmed the composition of the pools for the six Finals scheduled between April and June this year.
“The FIH Series Finals are one of the roads to reach the Olympic Games. Indeed, the top two teams from each FIH Series Finals will secure a place in the Qualification Events for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games which will be held in October and November 2019,” the FIH said in a release.
Barring Asian Games winners Japan, none of the teams are expected to offer stiff competition to the home team.
Besides India and Japan, the other teams in the group are Mexico, Poland, Russia, South Africa, USA and Uzbekistan.
The women’s team will be battling it out at Hiroshima with Chile, Fiji, Mexico, Poland, Russia and Uruguay from June 15-23.
Three pools of eight teams each for women as well as men will compete in these events. No less than 14 teams qualified for the FIH Series Finals played either at the women or the men’s World Cups last year.
Canada, China, France, India, Ireland, Malaysia and South Africa all competed at the men’s World Cup in Bhubaneswar last month, while India, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Korea, South Africa and Spain were in England last summer for the Vitality Hockey Women’s World Cup in London.
FIH CEO Thierry Weil said: “We can’t wait to see the FIH Series Finals to be played. The line-up of teams is quite impressive and the ‘road to Tokyo’ is at stake, which makes these six events even more attractive.” AH PM PM