Charlesworth flays Olympic qualification process

July 8th, 2008 - 8:34 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, July 8 (IANS) India’s hockey consultant Ric Charlesworth has lambasted the new Olympic qualification rules for preventing strong teams like eight-time champions India and Argentina from qualifying for the Beijing Games. Charlesworth said the new rules will allow average and below-par countries to play in the Olympics and it was not good for the game.

The Australian said it was unfortunate that India and Argentina would not be there for the mega event.

The Olympic qualifiers were played at three cities — Auckland (New Zealand), Santiago (Chile) and Kakamigahara (Japan) and the three top teams qualified. India played at the Santiago qualifier and were beaten in the final by Britain while New Zealand qualified from Auckland, beating Argentina.

Till the Athen Olympics in 2004,the qualifying tournament were played at one venue and the four semi-finalists used to qualify for the Olympics.

“Argentina and India would have rounded off an Olympic tournament of the ‘best’ teams in the world but unfortunately they will not be there. The new qualifying process might promote the game better but it creates anomalies and some ridiculous mismatches that benefit nobody.

Instead of three qualifying tournaments there should have been one Olympic Qualifying tournament so that all teams are treated fairly, Charlesworth wrote in his column in

Charlesworth said Argentina are clearly among the best six nations now.

Charlesworth said given the current form, Australia and Spain would reach the semifinal of the Bejing Olympics without any difficulty. They were the most impressive teams in Rotterdam (Champions Trophy).

He felt It is hard to see the Netherlands not getting through from their pool as only Great Britain will challenge them in the pool, though they should not be underestimated. Pakistan is off the pace and perhaps will soon appreciate the difference that Oltmans made four years ago. Canada and South Africa will just make up the numbers while occasionally doing something.

“It is the other pool that looks harder to assess. Germany with Christopher Zeller fit would be expected to make it with Spain. Korea, China at home and New Zealand are all capable of surprises. It is a pity that for the second Olympics in succession the pools are unbalanced but this ‘pool of death’ should see any except Belgium and China join Spain. Korea’s form in Rotterdam showed such a degree of uncertainty in defence that it may be hard to mend in a month,” he said.

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