Irish sides to learn Olympic qualifier opponents on September 9th

Ireland’s women and men will find out their Olympic qualifier opponent on September 9th, the International Hockey Federation (FIH) has confirmed.

For the women, last week’s fifth place finish at the European Championships means they will remain eighth in the world. It means they will definitely be in pot two for the draw, guaranteeing them a home tie against a side in pot three for the world rankings.

They will come up against one of the sides in pot three – Korea, Belgium, USA or Canada – in their head-to-head qualifier for Tokyo 2020 in what will be a two-legged tie at the same venue.

The Irish women will be in pot two for the Olympic qualifier draw. Pic: Koen Suyk / World Sport Pics

Where the qualifier will be has yet to be confirmed, though, as Hockey Ireland’s wait for a suitable home ground trundles on.

The National Sports Campus was pitched as the new training base but is not yet operational with the Irish squads continuing to rent different grounds.

UCD has been significantly upgraded with a new turf in place this summer, making it the preferred option though there remain a few infrastructure issues to be ironed out.

For the Olympic qualifiers, one caveat remains. South Africa won the women’s African Cup of Nations but, in not reaching the FIH Series final this summer, do not meet SASCOC – their national Olympic federation – criteria and the body has indicated they will not send the side to Tokyo.

At this stage, it is not clear whether this means another qualifier match will be required or if the next best placed side on the world rankings who has not qualified for Tokyo will get their ticket.

The South African team, meanwhile, have written to the FIH to ask if they can be included in the qualifier matches to try and earn their ticket via that method.

On the men’s side, Ireland’s world ranking is set to drop two places to 13th following their European relegation but they remain in pot three and set to face a team from pot two.

That means they will play away against a top ten side in their qualifier as a result – Germany, Great Britain, Spain, New Zealand or Canada are the potential opposition.

The Irish men face an away date for their Olympic qualifier. Pic: Frank Uijlenbroek / World Sport Pics

The new world rankings will be formally released on September 8th with the qualifiers draw set to take place a day later. From there, the FIH will open negotiations with broadcasters to show the games live.

RTE announced their intention to try and secure the rights to the women’s home games.

Currently, the dates proposed for the qualifiers are set for either the last weekend in October or the first weekend in November.

Women’s new rankings (* subject to Oceania Cup which concludes on September 8)

1. The Netherlands 2578 – European champions

2. Australia 2070

3. Argentina 1938 – Pan American champions

4. Germany 1893

5. England 1811

6. Spain 1713

7. New Zealand 1683

8. Ireland 1480

9. India 1443

10. China 1379

11. Belgium 1345

12. Korea 1338

13. Japan 1313 – Asian champions and Olympic hosts

14. USA 1193

15. Canada 1163

16. South Africa 983 – African champions

17. Italy 904

18. Chile 775

19. Russia 746

20. Malaysia 708

21. Belarus 675

22. Scotland 638

23. Czech Rep 628

24 Poland 555

25. Uruguay 483

26. Wales 475

27. Ukraine 393

28. France 345

Olympic qualifiers pools for September 9 draw (Pot 1 home vs Pot 4; Pot 2 home vs Pot 3)

Pot 1: Germany, England, Spain

Pot 2: New Zealand, Ireland, India, China

Pot 3: Belgium, Korea, USA, Canada

Pot 4: Italy, Chile, Russia

Men’s new rankings (* subject to Oceania Cup which concludes on September 8)

1. Australia 2350

2. Belgium 2348 – European champions

3. The Netherlands 2155

4. Argentina 1988 – Pan American champions

5. India 1823

6. Germany 1770

7. England 1679

8. Spain 1510

9.New Zealand 1459

10. Canada 1325

11. Malaysia 1218

12. France 1118

13. Ireland 1093

14. South Africa 1043 – African champions

15. Japan 905 – Asian champions and tournament hosts

16. Korea 865

17. Pakistan 810

18. Wales 755

19. Scotland 705

20. Austria 703

21. Egypt 698

22. Russia 598

23. USA 559

24. Italy 553

25. China 540

26. Poland 531

27. Chile 418

28. Ukraine 410

29. Czech Rep 270 and Belarus 270

Olympic qualifiers pools for September 9 draw (Pot 1 home vs Pot 4; Pot 2 home vs Pot 3)

Pot 1: Netherlands, India, Germany

Pot 2: England, Spain, New Zealand, Canada

Pot 3: Malaysia, France, Ireland, Korea

Pot 4: Pakistan, Austria, Egypt

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