The competition will also be the perfect opportunity for both the men’s and women’s teams to make important inroads from the 2020 Tokyo Olympics point of view. The FIH Series Finals begins in Bhubaneswar on Thursday and will be played between 6-15 June.
As many as 8 teams from Asia, Africa, Europe, and North America will be in the fray for capturing the two places in the FIH Olympic Qualifiers on offer. The qualifiers is scheduled to held between October-November later this year.
India – The Overwhelming Favourites
?: "We are ready for the tournament and expect every team to give a good fight as all of us are eyeing the Olympics," says the Indian Skipper @manpreetpawar07. #IndiaKaGame #FIHSeriesFinals #RoadToTokyo pic.twitter.com/j58LD5syBF
— Hockey India (@TheHockeyIndia) June 5, 2019
For the men’s team, the road seems to be a straightforward one, being the top ranked team in the tournament.
The fifth placed Indians’ closest opponents are South Africa at 16 followed by Japan at 18 in terms of rankings.
Besides these, other participating teams include Poland, Russia, Uzbekistan, USA and Mexico.
The opening fixture against minnows Russia should be a winnable encounter. The group other games against Poland and Uzbekistan would not be tough as well.
However, it is the knock-out jitters – as has been seen in the past- that the team needs to overcome. After topping the groups in 2018 World Cup, the Men in Blue fell out in the Knockouts. Indian team also lost out out in the semifinals of the 2018 Jakarta Asian Games which was arguably the best chance of qualifying for the Olympics.
2020 Tokyo Olympics Qualification Dynamics
There will be as many as 12 teams featuring in the sporting extravaganza. These include 1 for the host (which hands Japan an automatic qualification), 5 for the champions of Asia, Africa, PanAmerica, Europe and Oceania, apart from 6 for the teams coming through Olympic Qualifiers. Thus, the Qualifiers is the only option for the men’s team to qualify for the Olympics.
In order to reach there, the team would have to reach at least to the final of the FIH Series Finals in Bhubaneswar and Hiroshima.
FIH Series Finals Schedule
- June 6, Thursday – Pool A – India vs Russia – 7pm
2. June 7, Friday – Pool A – India vs Poland – 7pm
3. June 10, Monday – Pool A – India vs Uzbekistan – 7pm
June 12, Wednesday
– Cross-over 1 (C1) – 2nd Pool A vs 3rd Pool B – 5pm
– Cross-over 2 (C2) – 2nd Pool B vs 2nd Pool A – 7.15pm
– For 7th/8th place – 4th Pool A vs 4th Pool B – 8.45pm
Knock Out Stages: June 14, Friday
– Semifinal 1 – 1st Pool A vs Winner of C2 – 5pm
– Semifinal 2 – 1st Pool B vs Winner of C1 – 7.15pm
– For 5th/6th place – Loser of C1 vs Lose or C2 – 8.45pm
June 15, Saturday – Final – 7.15pm
– 3rd//4th place match – 5 pm
Schedule for Women’s Series Finals, Hiroshima (Timings in IST)
- June 15, Saturday – Pool A – India vs Uruguay – 2.30pm
2. June 16, Sunday – Pool A – India vs Poland – 2.30pm
3. June 18, Tuesday – Pool A – India vs Fiji – 10.30am
June 20, Thursday
– Cross-over 1 (C1) – 2nd Pool A vs 3rd Pool B – 12.15pm
– Cross-over 2 (C2) – 2nd Pool B vs 2nd Pool A – 2.30pm
June 21, Friday
– For 7th/8th place – 4th Pool A vs 4th Pool B – 12.15pm
– For 5th/6th place – Loser of C1 vs Lose or C2 – 2.30pm
Knockout Stage: June 22, Saturday
Semifinal 1 – 1st Pool A vs Winner of C2 – 12.15pm
Semifinal 2 – 1st Pool B vs Winner of C1 – 2.30pm
Final – June 23, Sunday – 2.30 pm
3rd//4th place match – 12.15p