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OQ M:India likely to meet one of SK, Pak,Austria (6/24/2019)
--Errol D’Cruz
For Indian fans who have the gumption of deciphering the FIH Olympic qualifying system, the results from Le Touquet, France, where the third and concluding FIH Series Finals (men’s) took place, may hold more than a passing interest. undefined

France beat Ireland in 3-1 in the final on Sunday to win the competition after both nations booked two berths on offer in the Olympic qualifying playoffs scheduled for October-November. Fast-rising France, who made waves at the Odisha World Cup last December, will have garnered enough ranking points to avoid a clash with India.

Fifth-ranked India are in the upper half of the draw and are assured of hosting a two-legged playoff, one of seven that comprise the new-look Olympic qualifiers.

India are likely to finish second in the pecking order if one of higher-ranked Belgium or Netherlands win the European championships in August and Australia do likewise in Oceania to book a direct berth at the Tokyo Olympics next year.

South Korea, China, Pakistan (if not banned for pulling out of the Pro League) and Austria are most likely to finish in the lower section of the draw. If Pakistan are kept out, Egypt squeeze in as the 14th team for the qualifiers and potential opponents for India.


The 14 teams that comprise the field for the Olympic qualifiers will face off as per rankings as well as draws from pots comprising the top three, four (top half), another four (lower half) and the bottom three. So, the draw of lots will pit the top three against the bottom three and the middle four of the top half against that of the lower half.

France and Ireland join Canada, Malaysia, India and South Africa in the qualifiers. Canada and South Africa, however, have chances to qualify directly from their continental championships. The vacant spots created from dual qualification will be filled by nations on the basis of world rankings to be decided on September 8 after the conclusion of the continental championships. Japan have qualified for the Olympics next year as hosts and created a vacant spot by winning the Asian Games gold medal in Jakarta last year.

In Le Touquet, France got the better of Scotland 3-0 in the semifinals. Ireland put paid to South Korea’s hopes with a 4-2 win in the other last-four clash to make the grade. The Indian women emulated their men by winning the FIH Series Finals in Hiroshima, Japan, beating the hosts 3-1 in the final on Sunday.

The silver medalists at the Jakarta Asian Games last year, exacted revenge of sorts by overturning the result and the ranking points gathered in Hiroshima are likely to help them retain 9th spot if not going a notch better.


Given that Argentina, Netherlands and Australia/ New Zealand are more than likely to qualify as continental champions, India may find themselves fifth or sixth in the pecking order. This would set up a clash with a nation in the other half of the draw and a potential playoff at home.

One of South Korea, USA, Belgium or Chile, if current rankings are anything to go by, could be India’s opponents in the all-important Olympic qualifiers with the assumption that South Africa, lurking in that zone, win the African championship and book tickets to Tokyo.

The first FIH Series Finals (women) was held in Banbridge, Ireland, where South Korea beat the hosts 3-1 in the final earlier this month.

The concluding FIH Series Finals is under way in Valencia, Spain.

The elite FIH Pro League for men (eight nations) and women (nine) is heading towards the playoffs in Amstelveen, the Netherlands, in June. The first four finishers qualify for the playoffs and Olympic qualifiers but some of those nations could emerge continental champions, thereby qualifying directly for Tokyo. The freed-up spots would be filled by nations by virtue of world rankings.

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