While India’s men’s hockey team will face New Zealand in their opening game, the women’s team will take on the Netherlands.
Indian hockey teams learnt the dates and fixtures of their Tokyo Olympic campaign as the revised competition schedule for next year was announced on Friday.
Aiming to end their four-decade-long medal drought at the Summer Games, Manpreet Singh and Co. will take on New Zealand in the opener on July 24, 2021.
Indian women, led by Rani Rampal, will have an uphill task against world No. 1 the Netherlands on the same day. But India will have enough intelligence on their Dutch counterparts, thanks to their coach Sjoerd Marijne.
While Indian men have been clubbed with Australia, Argentina, Spain, New Zealand and hosts Japan in Pool A, the women have to deal with Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, Great Britain, Ireland and South Africa.
"Our girls can't wait to start the campaign at the Tokyo Olympics. We start the Games against the world’s No. 1 team but it really doesn't matter who we play against,” said Dutchman Marijne to the Olympic Channel.
“We will be out there to give our best and achieve our team goals," 46-year-old Marijne, a former Dutch national coach, added.
The Tokyo Olympic hockey competition was originally scheduled to be held from July 25 until August 7, 2020, at Tokyo’s Oi Hockey Stadium.
“Although nothing has changed in terms of the location and overall running order of the matches, the Olympic hockey competitions will now start on July 24 and conclude on August 6, 2021,” the International Hockey Federation (FIH) said in a statement.
After the Netherlands test, Indian eves will take on Germany on July 26, Great Britain on July 28, Ireland on July 30 and South Africa on July 31 morning.
The Indian women’s hockey team has been on the right track under Marijne’s management and Rani Rampal’s leadership.
After getting the better of the USA 6-5 on aggregate to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics for only the third time, the eves have had a successful tour of New Zealand earlier this year.
The Indian hockey players had extended training camps after being stuck at the Sports Authority of India’s centre Bengaluru centre due to the COVID-19 lockdown. A lot of time was spent on video analysis.
Coach Graham Reid has kept the men’s team up to the task as well.
After qualifying for the Olympics with a comprehensive 11-3 win over Russia on aggregate, Indian men made an impressive debut in the FIH Pro League defeating Australia, Belgium and the Netherlands on home soil.
And the eight-time Olympic champions have Australia in their Olympic pool as well, whom they will face in their second league match on July 25.
India’s clash with Australia will be followed by matches against Spain on July 27, defending Olympic champions Argentina on July 29 and hosts Japan on July 30.
The top four teams from each pool - in both men’s and women’s event - will advance to the quarter-finals.
While the men’s quarter-finals, semi-finals and final are scheduled on August 1, 3 and 5 respectively, the women’s will have theirs on August 2, 4 and 6.