New Delhi, 9 August; India has been clubbed with defending champion Japan and arch-rival Pakistan in the six-team pool A of the Asian Games Hockey Tournament to be held at Hangzhou China from 23 September to 8th October.
The other teams in this pool are Bangladesh, Singapore, and Uzbekistan, while Pool B includes Korea, Malaysia, China, Oman, Thailand and Indonesia.
The Indian Women's Team, which won the Silver medal at the 2018 Asian Games in Jakarta, is placed in Pool A along with Korea, Malaysia, Hong Kong China, and Singapore. Reigning Champions Japan, along with China, Thailand, Kazakhstan, and Indonesia form Pool B.
Hoping to earn a direct Paris Olympics qualification, the Men's Team will start their Asian Games campaign against Uzbekistan on September 24th, while the Women's will take on Singapore in their opening game .
The hockey schedule was jointly announced by the Hangzhou Asian Games organising committee and Asian Hockey Federation (AHF) on Tuesday, after approval from the International Hockey Federation (FIH).
Reacting to the draw captain Harmanpreet Singh said that his team will not be taking any nation lightly. "We are placed along with some strong teams in our pool, including Japan,who won the Gold medal at the 2018 Asian Games in Jakarta. But we will treat all teams at par and will not be taking any competition lightly,"
Harmanpreet is leading the Team at the ongoing Hero Asian Champions Trophy where India have remained unbeaten so far in four games. India beat China 7-2 in their opening game and then drew 1-1 against Japan. With a 5-0 win over Malaysia and a solid 3-2 win over Korea, India are currently on top of the table.
"We are already getting a chance to compete with some of these nations at the ongoing Asian Champions Trophy , and we will look forward to using this experience to our advantage in the future. Our coaches have always instilled in us that we need to be prepared for all our rivals.
We will study all our opponents for the Hangzhou Asian Games, re-watch all videos to learn about their strengths and weaknesses and prepare our plans accordingly,"he added,
Women's team captain Savita said, "We are placed along with some strong teams in our pool. But we are confident that the work that we have done over the past year at the camp and training session will help us achieve good results in the competition."
She was of the view that the team will have to perform at their best to ensure they can finish at the podium. "Hangzhou Asian Games is an important event, especially with a chance to earn a direct Olympic qualification. All the players are unified by the common goal to perform their best at the Games and if we can do that, then we are in with a good chance to finish at the podium, irrespective of which teams we face in the competition," she added.