TopOfTheCircle.com

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Sept. 9, 2019 — Destiny in India

A random draw was held today at FIH headquarters in Lausanne, Switzerland to determine the pairings for the seven two-legged ties which will be played to fill out the Olympic Games tournament next year in Tokyo.

The United States, having finished ninth and last in the FIH Pro League, found itself in a draw pool in which the team would have to play China, Ireland, India, or Spain. Oddly enough, only one of those teams, China, was part of the Pro League; the rest played in Hockey Series competition in order to qualify for this segment of the competition.

As a result of this morning’s blind draw, the States will be playing in early November at India — interestingly enough, during NCAA conference tournament season.

The States have to like their chances against the Eves of India, despite having to play on the road. The States have gotten good results over the last 20 years, chiefly a win in a three-game series in 2002 to win the final slot at the FIH World Cup. But India has pulled the gap significantly, as evidenced by a close Test series at Spooky Nook just before Rio.

India, like the United States, qualified for the Rio Olympics. But while the States were knocked out in the quarterfinals, the Eves didn’t qualify. Both teams were drawn into the same group in the 2018 World Cup, but with the States needing three points in order to make the knockout states, India held the States to a 1-1 draw.

India got to this point by winning the Hockey Series Final in Hiroshima, beating the hosts (who had already qualified for the Olympics through being host and being Asian Games champion) 3-1 in the final. Gurjit Kaur had 11 of India’s 27 goals in the Hockey Series, and the team will also be led by defender Deep Grace Ekka and captain Rani Rampal.

One wildcard in the India side could be 21-year-old sensation Preeti Dubey, who was the captain of the India-A side that took part in the Australian Hockey League two years ago, and was part of the 60-woman selection squad for a 2019 camp, but is not in the current roster pool.

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