The second FIH Hockey World League Semifinal is set to hit the turf on June 20 at Antwerp in Belgium. The Semifinals acts as a qualifying round for the 2016 Rio Olympics and the top three teams from both the Semifinals also qualify for the FIH Hockey World League final.
In the first Semifinal held in Buenos Aires, Germany, Argentina and Netherlands qualified for Rio 2016 as well as the FIH Hockey World League Finals. The second Semifinal will see 10 other teams gunning for a top-three finish. The Indian men’s team have already qualified for the Olympics after being crowned continental champions last October and hence will be more relaxed.
Indian men’s team at the FIH Hockey World League
In the last edition of the tournament, India finished sixth in the Semifinals and hence did not make the cut to the finals. The Asian Games gold medalists will be hosting the FIH Hockey World League Finals this year in December and hence will gain automatic qualification for the same.
The Indian men’s team are placed in pool ‘A’ along with arch-rivals Pakistan, Australia, France and Poland. This group is relatively tougher than pool ‘B’ which comprises of hosts Belgium, China, Ireland, Great Britain and Malaysia.
In all probability, the pool ‘A’ clash between India and Pakistan on June 26 will be the showstopper at the FIH Hockey World League Semifinals. The men in blue would look for an encore of their historic Asian Games victory. If recent ads are to believed the Indian hockey team is raring to go and create a positive impression in the hearts and minds of Indian fans.
Indian women’s team at the FIH Hockey World League
The Indian eves are placed alongside Belgium, Australia, Poland and New Zealand in pool ‘B’. It will be an uphill task for the women’s team as they are required to play world-class hockey to be able to finish in the top three. India can book a place in the FIH Hockey World League finals and the Rio Olympics if they finish in the top three but it will be a tough proposition.
FIH Hockey World League: An opportunity for smaller teams to prove their worth
The FIH Hockey World League, in totality, provides a platform for the lower ranked teams to compete against the best sides of the world. The experience they get is valuable and is very useful for them to tackle tough situations in the games to come and who knows a team like the Indian women hockey team could actually create a few upsets.