On behalf of Asia, we had great representation in hockey in Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. The teams that represented us were: Japan (Men & Women), India (Men & Women) and China (Women).
The Tokyo 2020 host was Japan, whose men’s and women’s hockey teams hoped to inspire the nation’s next generation of players with their performances on home soil at the Oi Hockey Stadium.
Japan’s women claimed a remarkable gold medal success at the 2018 Asian Games in Jakarta, Indonesia, meaning that The Cherry Blossoms had effectively qualified for the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 twice over, adding to the ticket already awarded as the host nation. The Asian Games victory – where they defeated higher-ranked India in the competition final – will have given the Cherry Blossoms a real taste for success, something they will be determined to replicate on home soil in Tokyo.
Like their women, Japan’s men already had a ticket to Tokyo 2020 before they stepped onto the field at the 2018 Asian Games. However, that did not stop The Samurais from earning an outright ticket by claiming gold ahead of four higher-ranked teams in India, Malaysia, Pakistan and Korea. It was an astonishing achievement for the team coached by former Dutchman Siegfried Aikman, who will be looking to weave his magic with the team as they target a podium place on home soil.
INDIA MEN & WOMEN
Indian Men’s team rose to 3rd, while the Women’s team climbed to 8th in the International Hockey Federation (FIH) World Rankings.
A delightful finish to a dream campaign at the Tokyo Olympics 2020 saw Indian Hockey scripting history as both Men’s and Women’s teams achieved their highest ever FIH world rankings.
The Indian Men’s Hockey team, which ended a 41-year medal drought by clinching the Bronze Medal in Tokyo, rose to 3rd in the International Hockey Federation (FIH) World Rankings, behind Belgium and Australia, respectively. Whereas, the Indian Women’s Hockey Team, moved up to the 8th position according to the latest FIH world rankings.
Before this feat, the Manpreet Singh-led side’s career-high ranking was No.4, which they achieved in March 2020 on the back of their scintillating performances in the first three rounds of the second edition of FIH Hockey Pro League 2020. On the other hand, the Indian Women’s team’s highest-ever world ranking was 9th, which they accomplished by producing their best finish (Quarter Finals) at the Vitality Hockey Women’s World Cup London 2018 in four decades. Having reached till Quarter Finals of the World Cup, the Indian eves became the top-ranked Asian team and went on to clinch the Silver Medal at Jakarta Palembang 2018 Asian Games.
Both the teams achieved their highest ranking following their stunning performances at the Tokyo Olympics 2020. Manpreet and Co. finished second in Pool A winning four out of five group phase matches and defeated Great Britain 3-1 in Quarter Final before losing 5-2 against Belgium in their historic Semi Final. However, they staged a remarkable comeback to grab a 5-4 win over Germany to clinch a historic bronze medal at Olympic Games and as result climbed up to their best-ever world ranking.
Whereas, the Indian Eves, who faced three losses in the initial matches, went on to pull off arguably the biggest upset as they beat World No.3 Australian side in what was their first ever Quarter Final of the Olympics. Rani & Co. lost both Semi Final and the Bronze Medal Play-Off match against Argentina and Great Britain, respectively. Hence, finishing fourth at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics led India Women’s Hockey Team to climb up to the 8th in the world rankings.
Having achieved their highest-ever world rankings, the Indian Men’s Hockey Team Captain Manpreet expressed, “It’s the reward of all the hard work and dedication towards the game we love, towards the game which has given us everything. This ranking and the Olympic medal after 41 years mark the rise of Indian Hockey, and I think this couldn’t have happened without the support of the Ministry of Youth Affairs & Sports, Sports Authority of India, Odisha Government and Hockey India. There is no looking back now, we have set the benchmark for ourselves and would like to grow from here.”
Men’s team Chief Coach Graham Reid stated, “I must admit, I feel privileged to have played a part in the rise of Indian Hockey. It’s a great feeling that we won the historic Bronze Medal as well as achieving the highest ranking on the back of our solid performance in the Olympics. We played like a unit, with the right kind of attitude, and I think that has helped the team achieve this feat. Also, Hockey India, Sports Authority of India and all the stakeholders involved with the Indian Hockey has played a huge part in bringing back the team where it truly belongs.”
Indian Women’s Hockey Team Skipper Rani said, “We were very close to finishing on the Podium, and it is hurting the team that we didn’t. However, looking at the bright side, we have made remarkable progress in recent years, and I am really proud of it. Finishing in the top four at Olympics, and climbing to the 8th position in world rankings, is a very big thing for us, and this has boosted our confidence, it will certainly help us grow going forward. I would also like to take this opportunity to thank the Odisha Government, Hockey India and Sports Authority of India for the continuous support and encouragement.”
Indian Women’s team Chief Coach Sjoerd Marijne expressed, “It’s the result of all the hard work that girls have put in over the past few years. Achieving 8th rank in the world ranking and finishing among the top four at Olympics, is a big step for Indian Women’s hockey, and I think every team will definitely take us seriously. The athletes have that desire to learn and improve each and every day, and I feel this is one of the biggest reasons why we could finish among the top four. ”
While congratulating both Indian Men’s and Women’s Hockey teams for achieving their highest-ever world rankings, Hockey India President Gyanendro Ningombam said, “The Indian Men’s and Women’s Hockey Teams have performed exceptionally well in the Tokyo Olympics and we are delighted to see their performances being reflected on the FIH World Rankings as well. I would like to congratulate both the Men’s and Women’s teams for achieving their highest rankings. The players have been determined to get better with every match and I am sure that they’ll keep rising to greater heights. We are all very proud of both the team’s performance in Tokyo and we are happy that Hockey India has been able to achieve the goals we had set for ourselves when Hockey India was formed in 2009.”
India Men’s squad for Tokyo 2020:
Singh Dilpreet, Singh Rupinder Pal, Kumar Surender, Singh Manpreet (Captain), Singh Hardik, Singh Mandeep, Singh Harmanpreet, Parattu Raveendran Sreejesh, Sharma Nilakanta, Singh Shamsher, Rohidas Amit, Singh Gurjant, Upadhyay Lalit Kumar, Sumit, Lakra Birendra, Prasad Vivek Sagar
Coach: REID Graham (From Australia)
India Women’s squad for Tokyo 2020:
Kauar Gurjit, Ekka Deep Grace, Monika, Savita, Katariya Vandana, Udita, Kaur Navneet, Pukhrambam Sushila Chanu, Rani (Captian), Tete Salima, Neha Neha, Kaur Navjot, Devi Sharmila, Pradhan Nikki, Nisha, Lalremsiami
Coach: Marijne Sjoerd (From Netherlands)
The first match of our representatives was Japan Men’s (host of the Olympic Games 2020) vs Australia.
Japan lost 3-5, with 2 goals of Tanaka K and 1 goal of Kirishita Y. They showed strength and commitment being the first match of the tournament, but they could not with the great world power.
In their second match, the Japanese men’s team faced the last Olympic champions, Argentina. Although Argentina maintained the rhythm of the game, Japan never let down its guard and tried to play it as equals, so that in the last quarter # 9 Ken Tanaka converted and shortened the result to 1 goal.
The match where Japan had to demonstrate was against New Zealand. Japan managed to convert with # 9 Ken Tanaka and # 1 Yamazaki, in a difficult match due to the weather conditions, they had several scoring opportunities, where they started winning the match but could not define it and the match ended in a draw. The Japanese attackers managed to connect their passes very well, but the defense looked a bit messier and it was a point to correct for their last hope against Spain.
In their fourth game against Spain, Japan managed to take the lead in the first quarter by # 29 Zendana but then Spain managed to take the lead with a very powerful team, to come back and finish 1-4 in favor of the European team. It was a match in which it was difficult to reach the circle and it was difficult for the Asian team to penetrate the Spanish goal.
Towards their last group match Japan had to do everything they can to win against the great continental candidate India in the final round of the group stage in hopes of reaching the quarterfinals.
In the last game against India, the match ended at 3-5 despite Japan attacking aggressively. In the second quarter he managed to convert by # 9 Ken Tanaka and in minute 33 there was a tie for the Japanese team of # 31 Watanabe. In the 59th minute, # 9 Ken Tanaka again created an opportunity to escape into the circle, and finally # 7 Murata pushed the ball back with a backhand and scored a goal to close the gap on the scoreboard.
The offensive power that managed to score goals throughout all the matches was also demonstrated against India, the defensive side fought against the Indian attack and was dominated by the game.
In this way the men’s team of Japan said goodbye to the Olympic Games achieving a sixth place in the group A stage.
Japan Men’s squad for Tokyo 2020:
Yamasaki Koji, MITANI Genki, TANAKA Seran, OCHIAI Hiromasa, MURATA Kazuma, TANAKA Kenta, KITAZATO Kenji, NAGAI Yuma, YAMASHITA Manabu (Captain), Tanaka Kaito, NAGATOSHI Ken, FUKUDA Kentaro, OHASHI Masaki, YAMADA Shota, ZENDANA Hirotaka, YOSHIKAWA Takashi, WATANABE Kota, KIRISHITA Yoshiki.
Coach: AIKMAN Siegfried (From Netherlands)
The men’s team had a great performance beyond their final position, managing to convert all the teams they played against, showing a great front line of attackers and with a development in progress with a lot of attitudes from the rest of the team.
The Japanese women’s team (WR14th) began their Olympic journey by playing against their Chinese counterpart (WR 10th). In the first match of group B there were two of our Olympic representatives.
China presses from a high position as soon as it starts. Japan also couldn’t make their own rhythm because of the tension of the first match, it was a painful start.
At the end of the second quarter # 7 Nomura get into the circle and scored the first goal for Japan at the Olympics.
China took the lead, with an extremely difficult match, but in the third quarter in the 31st, the left side was broken again, and # 9 Yuri Nagai pushed in the ball and caught up with the tie. With an intense third quarter China again took the lead but # 10 Hazuki Nagai scored a spilled ball to catch up with the tie and finish the 3rd Q.
In the 4 Q during the 52nd minute, a pass was intercepted and China scored their fourth to won the match.
The second round of the Pool B was Japan vs New Zealand.
Standing up, Japan made a pace with possession hockey centering on a short pass, but could not break through the final line due to New Zealand’s strong defense and could not make a scoring chance. On the second Q # 11 Oikawa scored into the goal with her favorite flick.
After that New Zealand took the lead, and Japan couldn’t come back beyond having plenty of chances to finish the match 1-2 against WR 6TH.
In their third match Japan met WR3 Australia. He managed to keep the goal with 0 during the first two quarters, but in the third quarter he could no longer contain the pressure from Australia and the Australian team managed to score its first goal.
In the first half, the outlet was functioning against the Australian high press, but after the goal, easy mistakes such as receive mistakes were conspicuous, and it was a difficult game with a continuous attack time.
Japan would go to play their qualifying chance against the fearsome Argentina.
In the third group match, Argentina began winning with a goal in the first quarter and extremely high pressure. In the second quarter, after 19 minutes, on the left side, # 14 Segawa dribbled into the circle and passed in front of the goal. In the melee, # 19 Mori pushed in at a tie goal.
Argentina managed to convert in the 3rd Q, with an offensive pressure that was difficult to retain, managing to win the game.
Concluding their participation as hosts in the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, Japan faced Spain, taking into account that the coach is Spanish, they would know in advance which team they would be facing. Final round of the qualifying. Japan makes a rhythm by turning the pass and start with a good flow. In the 6th minute # 19 Mori escaped form the turnover, dribbled through the center and scored the first goal with a reverse shot.
After that blow, Spain got up and managed to score a goal and up to two for each remaining period, ending the game 1-4.
In the first half, they kept their concentration and proceeded with the game from scoring a goal until he was able to catch up with the tie.
However, in the second half, when the heat seemed to be a little fluttering, they couldn’t keep the goal, and the rhythm was broken. Japan finished 6th in the Pool B, and the Tokyo Olympics for Japan came to an end.
During the games Japan Women’s Coach Arnau Creus considered the growth on his team.
“Of course, the feeling when you lose – not too good, not so nice,” he said. “A long time ago, we started to change a lot of things in this team. In this moment, the team is starting to analyze things well each game, trying to do the system. It’s good for us. ”
Japan Women’s squad for Tokyo 2020:
Asai Yu, Hoshi Kimika, Mano Yukari (Captain), Nagai Yuri, Nagai Hazuki, Oikawa Shihori, Kozuka Miki, Segawa Maho, Toriyama Mai, Mori Kanon, Asano Sakiyo, Nishikori Emi, Nomura Kana, Matsumoto Natsuha Yamada Aki, Omoto Sakurako
Coach: Xavier Arnau Creus (From Spain)
Before the Olympics started, the FIH made an interview to Chinese team, following were some of their expectations:
Peng Yang captain of the team said: “We are all pretty excited and looking forward to playing in Tokyo.” “It would mean a big step forward for Chinese hockey.”
Also, Cui Qiuxia comment: “Every opponent in the Olympics is strong. We all face tough opponents, and every match will be challenging. We need to focus on our tactics and play with more efficiency to earn more chances. I cannot wait to start the Games. I think we are very well prepared now.”
“If we win a medal at the Olympics, I think it would be amazing. I really want to know what it feels like to win a medal in field hockey. [if we win a medal] we will have more support and have positive plans here in China. It will hugely help the sporting level of hockey in China.”
China had participated in the last four Olympic Games, having a silver medal in Beijing 2008. Their last show on the Olympics was in Rio 2016 finishing in 9th place on the overall table, so now they want to show that by being on their continent they can give much more than they did on their last Olympic podium.
China starts their first match at the Olympics against Japan, the host.
It was a difficult game since it was the first and nothing more and nothing less than against the host. China was better team for the first 20 minutes and deserved a 2-0 lead, but Japan was growing into this game and are back within striking distance of their opponents. China triumph in a seven-goal thriller, taking a 4-3 victory thanks to Liang Meiyu’s brilliant diving finish. Japan fought back superbly, but it is China who prevail. Scorers from China were Liang M, Gu B and Zhang Y.
Their second game against Australia, China was strengthened by their first victory, but the now WR 4 managed to demonstrate the power they have on the field.
Having already missed the game with the “Hockeyroos”, China faced another Olympic medal-winning World power and one of the top 5 in the ranking, Argentina.
The match was tied until the second quarter, where Argentina managed to score 2 goals, and China fights with its defensive line until the last and managed to score 2 goals in the last quarter imposing a bit of fear in the 52nd minute Li H and in the minute 56 Liu M. It was not enough and China accumulated their second defeat in Group B. “Las Leonas” take 3 points from this match. They were in control of most of it but in the last quarter China got really dangerous and scored twice within 4 minutes, but was not enough.
In their fourth Pool B match, China faced a highly prepared team for these Olympic Games, Spain. Although possession of the ball was divided 53% for China and 47% for Spain, the Europeans knew how to capitalize on their circle penetrations and a penalty corner. A goal in each quarter for the Red Sticks, China had their moments, but needed to find some consistency.
In their last match at the Olympic Games China face New Zealand fighting until the end, China ends the 3 Quarter 2 – 2 with goals of Liu M and Chen Y. With a tight result and match, China took advantage of their opportunities and with 6 minutes to go by the end of the match, they managed to convert to take the meritorious victory and fight for a position in group B. China claim a 3-2 win against New Zealand. However, Spain was ahead in their Pool B clash with Japan, it looks like it won’t be enough for China. They had to wait Spain result.
Finally, China finish 5th in the Pool B ranking.
China Women’s squad for Tokyo 2020:
Li Dongxiao, Zhang Ying, Cui Qiuxia, Peng Yang (Captian), Liang Meiyu, Li Hong, Zhang Jinrong, Ou Zixia, Zhang Xiaoxue, Wang Na, Luo Tiantian, Gu Bingfeng, Xu Wenyu, Liu Meng, Chen Yang, Zhong Jiaqi
Coach: Wang Yang