Tokyo: The Indian men and women hockey teams will battle with some of the best teams in the world during the upcoming Olympic Test Event, which starts from August 17 here at the Oi Hockey Stadium. Both the teams are to play in the Olympic Test Event as part of their preparations for the FIH Olympic Qualifiers, which are to be held on November 2019.
The winners of the FIH Olympic Qualifiers will secure their place in the highly-anticipated Tokyo Olympics 2020. The world number five men`s side is the top-ranked team at the Olympic Test Event and will be up against New Zealand, Malaysia, and Japan.
The side being led by defender and drag-flicker Harmanpreet Singh will be looking to register good performances against their opponents. With a few experienced players who have been rested for the tournament, the team will bank on the likes of the captain himself and vice-captain Mandeep Singh.
"We have a great opportunity to test a younger bunch of players in the matches against Malaysia, Japan, and New Zealand. They are good teams to play against. We are now adjusting well to our chief coach`s ideas," Harmanpreet said.
"It will be a good test for us but we are well-prepared and will go into every match with the intent to win it. It is a huge responsibility to have been given the captaincy, and I am looking forward to stepping up and delivering for the team," he added. However, the world number ten women`s team will have a comparatively tougher campaign at the Olympic Test Event as they face world number two Australia, world number 11 China, and world number 14 Japan.
The biggest competitor for the side will be the highest-ranked Australian team who they have not faced since their 0-1 loss in the semi-final of the Commonwealth Games 2018.However, skipper Rani believes that facing a big team before they take part in the FIH Olympic Qualifiers later this year will help the team in preparing well for the bigger challenges ahead.
"We have a great challenge in front of us at the Olympic Test Event, but we are pretty confident of doing well. We face Australia, China, and Japan. It will be a tough tournament, but we know we can beat any team in the world," said Rani.
"We have prepared well together as a unit, and the upcoming tournament will also help us with exposure against good teams. The journey to the Tokyo Olympics 2020 starts from here, and we will give our everything to win the tournament, and prepare to qualify for the Olympics," Rani added.The Olympic Test event is scheduled from August 17 to 21.