Favourites India will open their campaign against lowly Russia in the International Hockey Federation (FIH) Series Finals, an Olympic qualifier event, to be held in Bhubaneswar from June 6 to 15. World ranked fifth India will take on world no.22 Russia in the final match of the opening day, which also features games between South Africa and the United States and Poland and Uzbekistan. India is placed in Pool A alongside Poland (ranked 21), Russia and Uzbekistan (43rd), while Pool B consists of South Africa (16th), Asia Games gold medallist Japan (18th), USA (25th) and Mexico (39th).
After Russia, India will be up against Poland (June 7) and Uzbekistan (June 10) in their remaining pool matches. The final of the tournament will be played on June 15 at the Kalinga Stadium. The tournament will also be Indian men team’s new chief coach Graham Reid first big assignment. Meanwhile, in their bid to take a step forward towards qualifying for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, the Indian women’s hockey team will also feature in an FIH Series Finals event at Hiroshima, Japan from June 15 to 23.
The Indian women are placed in Pool A alongside Poland (23rd), Fiji and Uruguay (24th) while Pool B comprises hosts Japan (14th), Chile (16th), Russia (25th) and Mexico (29th). Indian women will open their campaign against Uruguay on June 15, followed by matches against Poland (June 16) and Fiji (June 18). Just like their male counterparts, Indian women too are the highest ranked side in their tournament at ninth.
The FIH Series Finals are one of the tournaments to qualify for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. The top two teams from each FIH Series Finals event will secure a place in the FIH Olympic qualifiers which will be held in October and November 2019, the venue for which is yet to be decided.