Charlesworth questions Olympic qualification rules

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New Delhi, Jul 8 (UNI) Coming down heavily on the new Olympic qualification rules, India's hockey consultant Ric Charlesworth said the rules would make the Olympics a dull event with below par teams' participation, while refraining potentially high quality sides like India and Argentina would be a huge loss to the game.

The Australian said India and Argentina not being able to participate in the Olympics would lead to some great mismatches in the mega event.

''Argentina and India would have rounded off an Olympic tournament of the 'best' teams in the world but unfortunately they will not be there. The new qualifying process might promote the game better but it creates anomalies and some ridiculous mismatches that benefit nobody,'' Charlesworth wrote in his column in fieldhockey.com.

''Instead of three qualifying tournaments there should have been one Olympic Qualifying tournament so that all teams are treated fairly,'' Charlesworth said.

The Olympic qualifiers were played at three cities - Auckland (New Zealand), Santiago (Chile) and Kakamigahara (Japan) and the three top teams qualified. India played at the Santiago qualifier and were beaten in the final by Britain while New Zealand qualified from Auckland, beating Argentina.

Earlier before the Athens Olympics in 2004, the qualifying tournament were played at one venue and the four semi-finalists were given a place each in the Olympics.

He further added that the eight-time champions India and Argentina were clearly among the best six nations in hockey.

Charlesworth backed Australia and Spain to reach the semifinal of the Bejing Olympics without any difficulty. ''They were the most impressive teams in Rotterdam (Champions Trophy),'' he pointed out.

He said even the Netherlands would not not find it tough to get through from their pool as only Great Britain will challenge them in the pool, though they should not be underestimated.

''Pakistan is off the pace and perhaps will soon appreciate the difference that Oltmans made four years ago. Canada and South Africa will just make up the numbers while occasionally doing something,'' he noted.

''It is the other pool that looks harder to assess. Germany with Christopher Zeller fit would be expected to make it with Spain. Korea, China at home and New Zealand are all capable of surprises.

''It is a pity that for the second Olympics in succession the pools are unbalanced but this 'pool of death' should see any except Belgium and China join Spain. Korea's form in Rotterdam showed such a degree of uncertainty in defence that it may be hard to mend in a month,'' he mentioned.

UNI RAR RKM BD2013

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