LAUSANNE: Pakistan’s hockey team, ranked 17th in the world, face an uphill task to make it to next year’s Tokyo Olympics after being paired with the Netherlands in the qualifying draw on Monday.
The draws were made at the International Hockey Federation (FIH) headquarters in Lausanne on Monday with Pakistan and India kept apart after hockey’s world governing body dismissed suggestions earlier this week that the two-legged tie could be held in Europe if the arch-rivals were drawn together amid diplomatic tensions between the two countries.
Three-time Olympic champions Pakistan will instead take on the Netherlands, the world’s third-ranked side, in Amsterdam on October 26 and 27 in the 14-team final qualification phase for the Tokyo Games which will see the aggregate winners earning a place at next year’s Games.
India, meanwhile, will face Russia while the other ties see Britain taking on Malaysia, New Zealand facing South Korea, Spain playing host to France, Canada hosting Ireland and Germany and Austria going head-to-head.
Japan, Argentina, South Africa, Belgium and Australia have already secured qualification as the five continental winners.
The 2020 Olympic hockey tournament will be staged between July 25 to August 7 at Oi Hockey Stadium