After the good news of getting to host the Olympic qualifiers, Indian hockey fans got something more to cheer about as the international hockey federation announced the groupings for the three tournaments to decide the final berths for London 2012.
India have got an easy group in the men's section with PanAm Games silver medallist and world No. 11 Canada their biggest hurdle in the tournament to be held at New Delhi from February 15-26 next year.The group also includes France, Poland, Egypt and the United States. The Indian women (13th in the world) will face South Africa, ranked 12th in the FIH rankings, Italy, Canada, Ukraine and Poland and, in home conditions, stand a good chance of making it to the quadrennial extravaganza.
The other two men's qualifiers will be held at Dublin, Ireland from March 10-18 and Kakamigahara, Japan, from April 25-May 6. Belgium will host the second event for women and Japan the third.
Korea will be favourites at Dublin (men's event) and will face the toughest fight from Malaysia. Hosts Ireland, Russia, Chile and Ukraine are the other teams in the group.
PTI adds: Former players cautioned India against complacency saying it would be a disaster if the erstwhile champions fail to book their London ticket from the qualifying event in February. "It's a very easy pool. If we fail to qualify for the Olympics from here it would be a big shame for India hockey," said former captain Ajitpal Singh. "But complacency is something which India needs to be careful about as a loss would be disastrous."