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Hockey: Indian women’s team pitted alongside likes of Germany, NZ, and Japan for Olympic qualifiers in Ranchi | Hockey News

Indian women’s hockey team will be competing alongside the likes of Germany, New Zealand, Japan, and USA for a spot at Paris 2024 as the global governing body on Monday announced the lineups for FIH Hockey Olympic Qualifiers 2024.

Savita Punia and Co missed out on an automatic qualification spot for the Olympics as they lost in the semifinals at the recent Asian Games in Hangzhou, with China winning gold and sealing their ticket. One of the two qualifying tournaments for women that was meant to held in China was then moved to India, with Ranchi named as the hosts.

India clinched the Asian Champions Trophy title on Sunday at the venue, with seven wins out of seven matches. Now they will have to turn their attention to the all-important qualifiers that will take place between 13-21 January 2024.

The eight women’s teams that will play for the three Olympic quota spots on offer in Ranchi are world No 5 Germany, No 6 India, No 9 New Zealand, No 11 Japan, No 14 Chile, No 15 United States, No 19 Italy, and No 25 Czech Republic.

These eight teams will be divided into two groups (although that hasn’t been revealed yet). The tournament format will be the same as that used in the FIH Nations Cup, with two groups of four followed by the top two reaching the semi-finals, then a third-place playoff followed by the final. The top three teams in each of these tournaments will earn the quota place for their NOC.

Festive offer

While Germany will be starting as the favourites in Ranchi, India start the tournament as the second-highest ranked team. However, the likes of New Zealand and Japan will provide stiff challenge and USA – who reached the PanAm finals – will prove tricky too. Japan, coached by Indian Olympian Jude Menezes, reached the final in Ranchi at the Asian Champions Trophy. USA was the team which India’s current head coach Janneke Schopman was with for the last edition of the qualifiers.

Following the conclusion of Hockey at the Pan American Games and the African Hockey Road to Paris 2024 on Sunday, five men’s and women’s teams gained direct qualification to the Olympic Games Paris 2024 as Continental Champions, in addition to the hosts France. Among them are the Indian men’s team who got the Asian quota by virtue of winning the Asian Games.

The rest of the eligible teams – 16 men’s and women’s – have simultaneously secured their place at Olympic qualifiers, so the pools for these qualification tournaments were revealed on Monday.

The 16 teams per gender have been divided into two groups, with 8 teams traveling to each location: Muscat, Oman and Valencia, Spain for the men, and Ranchi, India and Valencia, Spain for the women.

🔴The 8 men’s teams that will compete in Muscat, Oman are: Great Britain, Germany, New Zealand, Malaysia, Pakistan, Canada, Chile and China

🔴The 8 men’s teams that will compete in Valencia, Spain are: Belgium, Spain, Korea, Ireland, Japan, Austria, Egypt and Ukraine

🔴The 8 women’s teams that will compete in Ranchi, India are: Germany, India, New Zealand, Japan, Chile, United States, Italy and Czech Republic

🔴The 8 women’s teams that will compete in Valencia, Spain are: Belgium, Great Britain, Spain, Korea, Ireland, Canada, Malaysia and Ukraine.

The men’s and women’s teams have been divided into the two groups on the basis of their world ranking at midnight on 5 November 2023, once all Continental Championships were completed. A snake system was used once the 16 teams were arranged according to rankings.

Speaking at the sidelines of ACT in Ranchi last week, Hockey India President and former India captain Dilip Tirkey had said being hosts for the qualifiers will help Schopman’s side.

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“The discussions happened in China, immediately after they won the Paris quota. If China hadn’t won, they wouldn’t have let this go. We wanted to host it, because that will help us when we play at home. So we spoke to concerned authorities and got an agreement in place,” the 45-year-old said.

Tirkey also said that the women’s team performances in Ranchi make him optimistic about their Paris qualification chances.

“We will get the coaches to give us their plans and their needs for going forward. For the women’s team, the priority is of course to qualify from the event in Ranchi in January. The way the team is doing now, and the fact that we will be hosting it, I have full belief they can get to Paris,” he said.

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