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India to tour Belgium ahead of Olympic qualifiers against Russia in November

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India to tour Belgium ahead of Olympic qualifiers against Russia in November

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SportsCafe Desk


Indian men's hockey team captain Manpreet Singh announced on Tuesday that his team will venture on a preparatory tour to Belgium for their Tokyo 2020 Olympics qualifier against Russia in November. The women’s team faces a tricky test in their qualifiers against the USA on the same date.

The Indian men’s team on Monday was drawn against lower-ranked Russia in the final round of the Olympics qualifiers. Back-to-back matches will be played on 1st and 2nd November between India and Russia at Bhubaneswar to make it to the Tokyo Games.

Eight-time Olympics gold medalists and currently placed fifth in the FIH world rankings, India mauled 22nd placed Russia 10-0 in the FIH Series finals earlier this year. "First, we will play with Belgium and there is the (Olympic) qualifying round match later. We should not underestimate Russia as well because they have a very good defence. They also want to qualify for the Olympics," Manpreet told PTI.

On the other hand, the women’s team were drawn against the United States of America.

"Our team is very well prepared for that match. We are focusing on how to perform well. Our focus is not on the US team but on us, how better we perform,"  a confident women’s team captain Rani Rampal said, reported PTI. 

"We have been playing together for a quite long time and now we have to implement the coordination in the match as well," she further added.

Coaches of both the men’s and women’s teams have expressed their excitement about the matches lined up till November.

"We will prepare for these games like we prepare for the Olympic Games. So, we are looking forward to a good challenge for us," said men's team head coach Graham Reid.

Sjoerd Marijne, the women’s team head coach, expressed his satisfaction over the fitness of the players.

"The fitness of the girls has improved significantly. They are very fit. It has been a long process but now we are there where we want to be," he said.

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