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India on the easier road to Beijing

The International Hockey Federation released the final list of teams for the three Olympic qualifying tournaments scheduled for early next year, reports Uthra Ganesan.

india Updated: Sep 21, 2007 03:43 IST
Uthra Ganesan

DESPITE SOME last-minute doubts, India have managed to ensure they play in what might be the easiest route to the Beijing Olympics.

The International Hockey Federation on Thursday released the final list of teams for the three Olympic qualifying tournaments scheduled for early next year. Going by the participants, India have certainly managed to land in the easiest group.

India will play the second qualifying event in Santiago, Chile, to be held from March 1-9. India are grouped with Chile, Bangladesh, Austria, Egypt and Great Britain. There had been doubts that, despite India's Asia Cup win, they might have to play in New Zealand, considered the toughest group, due to the difference in ranking points.

However, according to the latest FIH world rankings released on Thursday, India, having managed to cling to their eighth spot, make the grade for Chile. Being the highest ranked team in the fray, it should be a smooth run for India en route to the Olympics. However, they would need to guard against complacency, especially against Great Britain, who have proved tough opponents in the past. India have to win the tournament to qualify for the Olympics.

Meanwhile, the Indian women also have a chance to make it to Beijing, drawn to play in the qualifier at Kazan, Russia, from April 19-27.

Olympic qualifying tournaments

Men: Auckland (NZ) — Feb 2-10: Argentina, Cuba, France, Ireland, New Zealand and Trinidad & Tobago; Santiago (Chile) — March 1-9: Austria, Bangladesh, Chile, Egypt, Great Britain and India; Kakamigahara (Jpn) — Apr 5-13: Czech Republic, Germany, Japan, Malaysia, Poland, Switzerland

Women: Baku (Azb) — Apr 12-20: Azerbaijan, Belarus, Chile, Kenya, Spain and Ukraine; Kazan (Rus) — Apr 19-27: Belgium, Chinese Taipei, India, Netherlands Antilles, Russia and USA; Victoria (Can) — Apr 26-May 4: Canada, Cuba, Ireland, Italy, Korea and Malaysia.