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OQ: Euro setting for Indo-Pak match? (9/1/2019)
--s2h Team
The high-voltage Olympic hockey qualifier between India and Pakistan, if the draw deems, could be played in Europe according to a reported FIH statement.

India, ranked fifth, and Pakistan, seventeenth, find themselves in opposite halves of the draw and could face off in the double-legged qualifier for a spot in next year's Tokyo Olympics.

India, by virtue of a higher ranking, would enjoy the privilege of hosting the encounter but with relations at a low in the wake of the Kashmir issue question marks hang heavy on the marquee match.

Pakistan, who failed to qualify for the last Olympics in Rio in 2016, were facing a ban from the qualifiers after pulling out of the inaugural FIH Pro League but received a reprieve with a fine, the first instalment of which has been paid.

The match-up is not a certainty, however. The top three teams in the fray will be drawn by lots to play the bottom three in the 14-strong field.

If not Pakistan, India could have Egypt or Austria as opponents in which case the home match will be on the cards for the eight-time gold medalists.

The Netherlands or Great Britain are the other possible opponents for Pakistan in qualifying battles on October-November.

If Australia fail to win the Oceania Cup (in early September), they will enter the qualifiers with Britain going into the cluster comprising lower-ranked nations.

Continental champions qualify directly for the Olympics as do hosts Japan.

Belgium, South Africa and Argentina have done so.

Japan won the Asian Games last year to free up a spot and thereby extend the qualifiers by two more nations.

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