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New Delhi [India], Dec 17 : Indian men’s hockey team will kickstart their Tokyo 2020 Olympics campaign against New Zealand while the women’s team will play their first match against the Netherlands on July 25.

The draw for the competition was announced on Tuesday in Tokyo.

“A good start will always give the right confidence and momentum to carry on in the tournament so it will be important for us to begin with a win. New Zealand has always posed stiff competition for us and I believe it can be a close game,” men’s skipper Manpreet Singh said.

“It is important to keep our nerves in check as opening matches can be a bit overwhelming especially at a major event like the Olympics,” he added.

The Indian men’s team has been clubbed with defending Olympic Champions Argentina, world number one Australia, Spain, New Zealand and Japan in Pool A.

India will play their second match against Australia on July 26 and then will face Spain on July 28.

The side will then lock horns with Argentina on July 30 and then play hosts Japan on July 31.

The men’s quarter-finals will be played on August 2 while semi-finals will be held on August 4. The gold and bronze medal match will be played on August 6.

“Every game will be crucial at the Olympics and we cannot let our guard down against any team even if they are ranked below us. The competition will be so high that each match will need to be played like it’s the final,” Manpreet said.

Indian women’s team is grouped in Pool A along with Netherlands, Germany, Great Britain, Ireland, and South Africa. The side will face Germany in their second Pool A match on July 27 followed by the match against defending Champions Great Britain on July 29.

The quarter-finals for the women’s competition will be held on August 3 while the semi-final will be held on August 5.

The gold and bronze medal match will be held on August 7.

“Draw does not matter because in the Olympics every team is equal and every team will come to the Olympics with an aim win. As a team, we need to focus on ourselves and what we can do better on the given day,” women’s skipper Rani said.

“We are preparing well to ensure we tick all the boxes in each of our matches and put all the energy into every game we play and give our best to the blue shirt if we want to see ourselves in the quarter-finals and semi-finals,” she added.


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