India allotted easier group for Olympic qualifiers

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Chennai, Sep 20 (UNI) The Indian men's team have been allotted a comparatively easier group and ranked number eight in qualifying tournaments for the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

According to Indian Hockey Federation (IHF) Secretary K Jyothikumaran, India will play the qualifying tournaments from March 1 to 9 in Chile and will take on Britain (ranked 9), Egypt (ranked 18), hosts Chile(ranked 20), Austria (ranked 25) and Bangladesh (ranked 28).

Mr Jyothikumaran told UNI that the team would start its preparation for the qualifying tournaments soon and was making plans for it.

He said if the Champions Trophy, which was being shifted from Pakistan, was allotted again to India ahead of Malaysia, the team's preparation would begin from that tournament.

The FIH, which announced the allotment of teams for the qualifying tournaments, today placed India's womens team(ranked 13) along with USA(ranked 11), Netherlands(28), Russia (ranked 21), Belgium(ranked 26) and Chinese Taipai(28).

It might be recalled that the Indian mens team, after qualifying directly for the Sydney Olympics, has been forced to make it to the Athens Olympics through the qualifying tournaments.

The favourable draw for India mens team comes in the wake of the winning performance in the recently concluded seventh Asia Cup, which the FIH recognised as a ranking tournament for the first time.

UNI

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