India's hockey teams have found out when they will be in action at Tokyo 2020 after the match schedule for the Olympics was released.
The men's team will begin their campaign against New Zealand on July 25th, the opening day of competition.
Meanwhile the women's team will take on world champions the Netherlands in their first Pool A group game on the same day.
A Tough Assignment
The road doesn’t get easier for the women’s team.
After their opener against the Netherlands, they are scheduled to take on Rio 2016 bronze-medalists Germany on July 27, before facing the reigning Olympic champions Great Britain on July 2. Their final two pool fixtures will see them battle FIH 2018 Women’s World Cup runners-up Ireland July 31 followed by South Africa on August 1.
Indian skipper Rani Rampal, meanwhile, played down the hype surrounding the fixture. “The draw does not matter because in the Olympics every team is equal and every team will come to the Olympics with an aim win,” she told Hockey India.
“As a team, we need to focus on ourselves and what we can do better on the given day. We are preparing well to ensure we tick all the boxes in each of our matches and put all the energy into every game we play and give our best to the blue shirt if we want to see ourselves in the quarter-finals and semi-finals.”
The men’s team are scheduled to take on New Zealand on July 25 in their opener before battling three-time world champions Australia on July 26. Their third match of the pool stage will be against one the most improved team’s in the past few years, Spain, on July 28 and their final two games will see them take on reigning Olympic champions Argentina on July 30 and the hosts Japan on July 31.
The top four teams from each pool will qualify for the quarterfinals of the Olympic hockey tournament. The men’s quarterfinal will take place on August 2 whereas the women’s quarterfinals are scheduled for the subsequent day.
Indian hockey captain Manpreet Singh was confident of his starting the Games on a bright note. “A good start will always give the right confidence and momentum to carry on in the tournament so it will be important for us to begin with a win. New Zealand have always posed stiff competition for us and I believe it can be a close game,” he said.
The Indian teams will go into the all-important Olympic year on the back of a satisfactory season that saw them prove themselves against quality opponents. While the men’s team enjoyed a fine outing against the reigning World champions Belgium, the women gave a good account of themselves against the likes of Great Britain, Spain and the USA.