India grouped against Japan, South Africa in FIH Series Finals

India's men's hockey team is grouped alongside Asian Games winner Japan in the FIH Series Finals which is the first round of qualification for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

The FIH Series Finals will be played at Bhubaneswar between April and June.   -  AP

India was on Monday placed in a relatively easy group in the International Hockey Federation (FIH) Series Finals, the first-round qualifiers for the 2020 Olympics, and will play their matches in Bhubaneswar from June 6 to 16.

The FIH confirmed the composition of the pools for the six Finals scheduled between April and June this year.

“The FIH Series Finals are one of the roads to reach the Olympic Games. Indeed, the top two teams from each FIH Series Finals will secure a place in the Qualification Events for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games which will be held in October and November 2019,” the FIH said in a release.

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Besides India and Asian Games winner Japan, the other teams in the group are South Africa(World rank: 16), Poland(21), Russia(23), USA (26) alongside unranked sides Mexico, and Uzbekistan.

The women’s team will be battling it out in Hiroshima with Chile(World rank: 16), Poland(23), Uruguay (24), Russia(25), Mexico(30) and Fiji (unranked) from June 15-23.

Three pools of eight teams each for women as well as men will compete in these events. Seven teams each from both the men's and women's World Cups have gained qualification for the FIH Series Finals.

Canada, China, France, India, Ireland, Malaysia and South Africa all competed at the men’s World Cup in Bhubaneswar last month, while India, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Korea, South Africa and Spain were in England last summer for the women’s World Cup in London.

FIH CEO Thierry Weil said: “We can’t wait to see the FIH Series Finals to be played. The line-up of teams is quite impressive and the ‘road to Tokyo’ is at stake, which makes these six events even more attractive."