Tuesday July 23, 2024

Great Britain to start as favourites in Olympic hockey qualifying round

By Our Correspondent
January 11, 2024

ISLAMABAD: Great Britain will start favourites to make it to the semi-finals from Pool A in the Olympic hockey qualifying round that starts in Muscat (Oman) from January 15.

This representational image shows hockey players on a field. — Radio Pakistan/File
This representational image shows hockey players on a field. — Radio Pakistan/File

The other teams in the Pool include Malaysia, Pakistan and China. Pool A promises to provide plenty of thrills with four teams known for their exciting style of hockey going head-to-head across six pool stage matches. Great Britain are the prohibitive favourites and have been flying in recent times, with a silver medal at the EuroHockey Championships and the 2022-23 season of FIH Hockey Pro League.

They will be joined by traditional Asian powerhouses Malaysia and Pakistan, the two teams that look to have moved beyond their rebuild phases, and will be looking to make their returns to the Olympic Games, having missed out on the previous edition.

China have made just one appearance in men’s hockey at the Olympic Games in 2008 as the hosts. They will be hoping to secure a top-three spot at the qualifiers to join their women’s side, who have already qualified for the Olympic Games as the gold medalists of the Asian Games 2023. Pool B comprises Germany, New Zealand, Canada and Chile.

Germany, ranked 5th in the world, will be de-facto favourites to top the pool but New Zealand, despite their recent dip in form, remain one of hockey’s biggest powerhouses and came close to qualifying for the Olympic Games at the expense of Australia at the 2023 Oceania Cup, falling short at the very end.

Canada and Chile will both come in as underdogs in Pool B but as evidenced by their performances at the FIH Hockey Men’s World Cup 2023, they have a lot to offer, with their fast-paced playing styles, providing an ideal foil against their higher ranked opponents in the pool.