Tokyo: After securing their place in the FIH Olympic Qualifiers by winning their respective FIH Series Finals in June 2019, the Indian Hockey Teams will start their Olympic Test Event campaigns here at the Oi Hockey Stadium on Saturday.
The Indian Men’s Hockey Team, currently ranked World No. 5, will play World No. 12 Malaysia in their opening encounter, while the World No. 10 Indian Women’s Hockey Team will be up against World No. 14 Japan.
As part of their preparations for the FIH Olympic Qualifiers, the Indian teams will face good competition at the Olympic Test Event, with the Men’s team facing World No. 12 Malaysia on Saturday, and then playing World No. 8 New Zealand on Sunday, and World No. 16 Japan in their last round-robin match.
The Indian Men’s team is the top-ranked team in the competition, and will be confident of producing good performances starting Saturday. Under the leadership of Captain Harmanpreet Singh and Vice-Captain Mandeep Singh, India will face Malaysia, who they last played at the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup 2019 where India won 4-2. The Indians have a formidable record against the World No. 12 side as in the last 10 meetings between the two Asian rivals, India have won six matches, with Malaysia only managing three wins.
Chief Coach Graham Reid said that he expects a good match against Malaysia on Saturday. “We are looking forward to tomorrow’s first match of the Olympic Test Event against Malaysia. We have had some good tough training sessions in both brand new stadiums and after a light training session today, we will be ready for tomorrow’s encounter. Historically we have had some grand battles against Malaysia and I don’t see tomorrow being any different,” stated Reid ahead of their opener.
Meanwhile, World No. 10 Indian Women’s Team will be up against tougher opponents as they face World No. 2 Australia, World No. 11 China and World No. 14 Japan. They will start their campaign on Saturday against hosts Japan, whom they beat 3-1 in the final match of the FIH Series Finals Hiroshima 2019. The last 10 meetings between the two teams have seen good competition as Japan has managed four wins, while India has won three, with three matches ending in draws.
Chief Coach of the Indian Women’s Team, Sjoerd Marijne, spoke ahead of the match, “We are looking forward to starting well at the Olympic Test Event. This is a great opportunity for us to play against other strong teams, and it will give us the chance to see where we need to improve ahead of the crucial FIH Olympic Qualifiers later this year.”
On Saturday, (August 17), Indian Women’s Hockey Team will face hosts Japan at 08.15hrs IST, while the Indian Men’s Hockey Team play Malaysia at 15.00hrs IST.