Olympic hockey qualifiers: Lucky to have attracted Russia but still needs to beat them, say the oldest in India

NEW DELHI: On Monday, September 9, when the clock struck 4:30 p.m., it was time for the qualifying draw for the Olympic Games. hockey at FIH headquarters in Lausanne, Switzerland. All the smartphones at the men's and women's camp at the Indian Sports Authority Center in Bengaluru were browsing FIH's Facebook Live.

In the end, the men of India drew Russia and the women chose a tough opponent in the United States. However, that was expected with the nature of the draw, which was designed so that the higher the rank of a team, the easier the opponent will be. The men of India are ranked number 5 in the world, and women are ranked 9.

But that didn't mean that there was less nervous tension in Bangalore, especially among the boys who might have attracted the arch-rivals of Pakistan. India's neighbors, on the other hand, are involved in perhaps the toughest of the seven men's Olympic qualification events, against the Netherlands.

There are many network problems here. On some boys' phones, the live broadcast was ahead and behind. Before that, there was also the women's raffle, so we were also shouting for them, he said PR Sreejesh talking to Timesofindia.com in his first reaction after the opponents of India were revealed.

Tension in the Indian camp had accumulated after it was rumored that if it was India vs. Pakistan, the two-game qualifier could be changed to a neutral place.

But Sreejesh pointed out another interesting fact that was in the minds of children.

If it turned out to be Austria, then we know that Cedric (D'Souza) sir (former coach of India) had been his coach, so you can meet many of our players. So there were three options. But it was all about luck, who you play with. Fortunately, we have Russia, Sreejesh said.

In addition to Sreejesh, captain Manpreet Singh It is among the senior group of the squad. Like the rest of his team, he was also attached to the action of drawing.

To give an idea of ​​the team's mood before the draw, Manpreet shared a brief interaction that campers had with the coaching staff led by head coach Graham Reid.

There is nothing in your hand when it comes to a tie, Manpreet told Timesofindia.com by phone from Bengaluru. The coaches had said that with whom we play, we have to win. They asked: 'Do you want to play the Olympic Games?' We said 'Yes' with one voice. 'That is all. There is no need to think who we can play with and who can not. Keep trying your best in training, focus on improving, 'said Manpreet.


India, which seeks to make its 21st appearance at the Tokyo Olympics next year, are overwhelming favorites against Russian men in 22nd place, who have never been to the Games.

Overall, India has a 5-0 record against the Russians; and during the last meeting in June of this year in the FIH Series Finals, the hosts defeated Russia 10-0 in Bhubaneswar.

the Kalinga Stadium In the capital of Odisha, the men's and women's Olympic qualifiers are scheduled for November 1 and 2 of this year.

"Definitely, when you look at them, comparatively it's quite okay for us, but nothing can be taken for granted," said custodian Sreejesh. " the climate (back in June) and occasion (Olympic qualifiers) now are completely different.

"It's a do-or-die situation, with only one Olympic spot on offer. You have to win, there is no other option. the previous experience (against Russia) has been quite good for us. But we can't take them lightly," he further analysed.

Manpreet se hizo eco de the pensamientos de Sreejesh.

Their (Russian) defense is good. Last time (in June), it was really hot in Bhubaneswar. They couldn't adjust very well as they come from extremely cold weather. But in November, the weather is going to be better for them. So we shouldn't underestimate them. Anything can happen in today's hockey, the skipper told TimesofIndia.com.


Siempre es complicado cuando te enfrentas a un equipo de menor rango y se espera que ganes sin dudas. Más aún esta vez, cuando un lugar en the Juegos Olímpicos está en juego y perder no es una opción.

These are pressure games, whether they play in Australia or Russia, Sreejesh said. When you play against a smaller team, it's always about you. I used to say this every time, that when we play against teams classified under us, we need to raise the level of our game even more, because even if they start dominating us, it will be only for us.

So it's not about them, it's about us. We need to rule the game.

Antes de su clasificación olímpica, India viajará a Bélgica para una gira de prueba. Jugar contra the campeones del mundo en su propio patio trasero ofrecerá a the muchachos de Reid el terreno más competitivo para probar the planes del entrenador.

It can be a series of tests, but the experience of playing against world and European champions provides an additional advantage to our game. Sometimes we plan many things in practice but we don't have enough opportunities to execute them in games. This is the moment, Sreejesh said, before completing the chat with his own inimitable style.

It's like a review before the test to polish and be mentally prepared.