The Indian women’s squad team is traveling to Spain on a tri nation tour on Wednesday, knowing that they have made their way to Tokyo 2020 complicated in the selection of qualifying races.
Coach Sjoerd Marijne has acknowledged in the choice between the “Pro League” and the shorter firefight of the “Hockey Series finals” that the decision to withdraw from the Pro League, the qualification prospects of his team for the Olympics only difficult.
“If we now knew how it works with the points, it would have been better to be in the Pro League,” Marijne told ESPN. “With the series, you can not win many [ranking] points – if you’re in 9th or 8th place in the Pro League, you already have more points, I do not think that’s right.”
The Indian women under captain Rani Rampal are touring Spain, where they will play six tests against the hosts and Ireland. These games are in preparation for the June Hockey Series final in Hiroshima, Japan, where India must be among the first two games to reach Tokyo 2020’s final qualifying round. India will compete against Japan, Chile, Fiji, Mexico, Russia, Poland and Uruguay from 15 to 23 June.
What About Pro League?
In 2017, the International Hockey Federation (FIH) announced the start of the nine-person Pro League home league, which features both men’s and women’s teams from India. India, however, withdrew from the event, fearing that the women’s teams might not be in the top four and miss the Olympic qualifiers.
The women’s Pro League starts on January 26th. In Argentina, Argentina will be in Cordoba, on the same day India starts its Spain tour. The four best qualifiers of the Pro League will compete in the semi-finals and finals, all in the last week of June in the Dutch Amstelveen.
These four best teams will all win the Olympic qualifiers and are among the best-placed teams in the last qualifying round. There are 14 teams against each other, with the higher-ranking team will draw the tie.
As FIH recently announced the qualification criteria for the Tokyo Olympics, India had to negotiate two qualifying rounds (series finals and Olympic qualifying matches), although the second stage may have been more difficult due to lack of participation in the Pro League.
The problem for India will be that the nine countries of the Pro League – Argentina, Australia, Belgium (for India), China, England, Germany, the Netherlands, New Zealand and the USA – received for each game rankings played during the Pro League, where they are guaranteed at least 16 games each.
Without enough high-quality games, India could drop the world rankings during this period, even if they land in the first two of the Hockey Series finals, where they will be represented at one of the three events in Hiroshima. Their last qualifiers (Olympic qualifiers) could compete in the second half of the year against a higher team outside the home country.
“Of course it’s good to play a lot of games at a high level, but at that moment we had a really long year,” said Marijne. “It took us some time to recover and it’s good for us too.
“I think we had a good 2018. It was a year in which we achieved some really big things, but also a year in which we realized we could have achieved more, so it’s a bit of a sense of The same applies to the Asian Games – we were very close to gold and of course we are satisfied with silver, but we came there just for the gold.
“So we were disappointed, and that says a lot about the team, that they are starving for more, not only are they satisfied with great performances and writing history, they still believe that they can do more than what they have done now. “