Saturday, March 2, 2024

FIH Olympic hockey qualifiers: Pools, venues and teams

The final hockey tickets for the Paris 2024 Olympics will take place in Spain, India and Oman this month

Men’s Pool A: Belgium, Ireland, Japan, Ukraine

Pool A features Olympic Champions Belgium along with fellow European nations in Ireland and Ukraine, while Japan, hosts of the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020, will be the sole representative from Asia in the men’s Pool A in Valencia.

Belgium will be heavy favourites to top the group. A top two spot in the pool is the only way to progress to the semi-final and keep the hopes of Olympic qualification alive.

Men’s Pool B: Spain, Korea, Austria, Egypt

Spain and Korea are both ranked within the top-10 of the FIH Hockey World Rankings and will be the favourites to advance to the knockout stages. But Egypt and Austria will be aiming for upsets and both teams find themselves inside the top 20 in the world rankings.

Women’s Pool A: Belgium, Korea, Ireland, Ukraine

Belgium are the highest ranked team in the pool, currently placed 4th in the world rankings. Their performances over the past year in the FIH Hockey Women’s World Cup and the FIH Hockey Pro League have been outstanding, which makes them the favourites to progress out of the pool. Korea and Ireland are neck-and-neck in the world rankings in 12th and 13th positions respectively, and the head-to-head matchup between the two sides might end up being crucial in deciding who qualifies for the semi-finals. Ukraine’s star has been on the rise in international hockey over the past couple of years.

Women’s Pool B: Great Britain, Spain, Canada, Malaysia

With teams from three different continents, pool B will bring a mixture of playing styles. Great Britain and Spain, who have missed out on qualifying for just one edition of Olympics since 1992, will start as favourites to qualify from the group.

Ranchi, India

Women’s Pool A: Germany, Japan, Chile, Czech Republic

Germany, ranked 5th in the world, will be favourites to qualify from the group. They narrowly missed out on making it to the finals of the EuroHockey Championships and comfortably got the better of England to finish with the bronze medal. Japan, with their disciplined defence-first style are a threat against any opposition, while Chile have been going from strength to strength in international hockey over the past couple of years and a first-ever qualification to the Olympic Games is not beneath them.

Women’s Pool B: India, New Zealand, United States, Italy

As hosts, India will be hoping to give their passionate fans a lot to cheer for, by finishing inside the top-2 places in the pool and qualifying for the semi-finals. New Zealand and USA, both ranked inside the top-15 in the world, will also be expected to be in the mix for not just qualifying but also vying for the top spot in the group. Italy have produced some great results over the past year, but will have their task cut out against the three higher ranked opponents in the pool B.

Muscat, Oman

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Men’s Pool A: Great Britain, Malaysia, Pakistan, China

Pool A promises to provide plenty of thrills with four teams known for their exciting style of hockey going head-to-head across 6 pool stage matches. Great Britain are the favourites and have been flying in recent times, with a silver medal at the EuroHockey Championships and the 2022-23 season of FIH Hockey Pro League. They will be joined by traditional Asian powerhouses Malaysia and Pakistan, two teams that look to have moved beyond their rebuild phases, and will be looking to make their returns to the Olympic Games, having missed out on the previous edition. China have made just one appearance in men’s hockey at the Olympic Games, in 2008 as the hosts.

Men’s Pool B: Germany, New Zealand, Canada, Chile

Germany, ranked 5th in the world, will be de-facto favourites to top the pool, but New Zealand, despite their recent dip in form, remain one of hockey’s biggest powerhouses, and came close to qualifying for the Olympic Games at the expense of Australia at the 2023 Oceania Cup, falling short at the very end. Canada and Chile will both come in as underdogs in Pool B, but as evidenced by their performances at the FIH Hockey Men’s World Cup 2023, they have a lot to offer, with their fast-paced playing styles.

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