Even after losing to South Korea in the finals, thanks to the results that took place earlier in the tournament, India is now almost virtually through to the World Cup.
India’s Asia Cup journey came to a disappointing end after losing to South Korea in the finals. The Asia Cup was literally a World Cup Qualifying tournament for the Indian team. An Asia Cup triumph would have guaranteed the team a berth in the next year’s World Cup. However, even after the loss, thanks to the results that took place earlier in the tournament, India is now almost virtually through to the World Cup.
The reason I said virtually is because India will now have to wait for either Australia or New Zealand to win the Oceania title to sneak through. With Fiji and Samoa being the other two teams in Oceania, India are virtually through as second reserves, but it will become official only in November. In fact, after the first semifinal where South Korea beat Pakistan, India’s position to World Cup qualification became stronger as Malaysia and South Korea had already qualified for the World Cup. The semi final win over Malaysia consolidated our entry for the World Cup even more.
A world Cup berth will be an incredible achievement by the hockey team as it was looking more and more unlikely to happen. Now with a strong showing at the Asia Cup, there is renewed interest in the team and that bodes well for the sport in the country. Regular participation in the big tournaments is always going to be good for any sport. Hockey is no exception.
After the sacking of Coach Michael Nobbs earlier this year, many feared that this may play a big impact the hockey team’s preparation for the big event. However, under new management the team has performed well. Credit must be given to the new chief coach Roelant Oltmans. After the disappointing performance at the London Olympics last year, fans would be hoping to see a better outing by the team at the World Cup next year. It would be official only in November of Indian teams qualification for the World Cup, but rest assured India will be there at the Kyocera Stadium in The Hague, Netherlands next year on 31st May.