With the FIH announcing the 2020 Olympic Games draw , the task has been cut out for the Indian Men and Women’s Hockey teams who qualified for the prestigious quadrennial extravaganza after winning their respective FIH Olympic Qualifiers earlier this month in Bhubaneswar. The Indian Men’s Team who beat Russia to qualify for the Olympics are grouped in Pool A along with Olympic Champions Argentina, World No.1 Australia, Spain, New Zealand and hosts Japan while Pool B features World Champions Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, Great Britain, Canada and South Africa.
“At the Olympics, there’s no easy draw. It may seem that as the third highest ranked team behind Australia and Argentina in our pool, we are grouped in an easier pool compared to Pool B which has Belgium, Netherlands, Germany apart from Great Britain, Canada and South Africa. But at the Olympics, rankings hardly ever matter. No team can be taken lightly and we need to be our best in every match in the Pool stage which will determine who we play in Quarter Finals. We all still remember what happened against Canada (2-2 draw) in Rio,” stated Manpreet following the announcement.
The Men’s Team on Monday met for a meeting involving players and support staff where they discussed the draw. “Finishing top two in the Pool is the first goal for the team. We play Australia and Argentina in the Pro League next year. How we do against these top teams will determine the level we are at ahead of the Olympics and what we need to improve in the lead up,” he added.
The Indian Women’s Team on the other hand are grouped in a tough Pool B where they play World Champions Netherlands, Germany, Great Britain, Ireland and South Africa. “We have played against Ireland and Great Britain in the past year and we have good understanding of the level we need to bring to the game when we play against them but Netherlands is one team we have always wanted to do well against and we have not played enough matches against them. They are one team we look forward to play against,” stated Rani.
In the women pool B, Australia, Argentina, New Zealand, Spain, China and Japan are clubbed together. “There is no doubt we have to produce our best in each and every game in the pool stage to make the Quarter Finals. The team is very confident that this time we can make it to the top four and from there on it can be anybody’s game,” she said.