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FIH Hockey Olympic qualifiers: Canada seek first back-to-back qualifications since 1988

September 30, 2019

Continuing our series of video interviews with the teams that will participate in the upcoming FIH Hockey Olympic qualifiers, Canada (FIH World Ranking: 10) captain ScottTupper looks ahead to his team’s all-important two-match clash with Ireland (WR:13), with a place at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 on the line. The crucial matches will take place in West Vancouver, Canada on 26/27 October 2019, with timings to be confirmed in the coming weeks. A transcription of the interview can be found below.    

    

The FIH Hockey Olympic qualifiers will be taking place very soon. How is your team preparing for these hugely important matches?
Scott Tupper:
 It’s pretty exciting to be part of the qualifiers and have that second opportunity to try and qualify for Tokyo and to have earned the right to host it is pretty special. I think we are going to have a really good crowd in West Vancouver because the community has been pretty supportive of our national team over the last few years and they really do enjoy the sport. I think it will be a really good event and it [the crowd] will be an extra boost for our team as we play over the weekend.

As the home team, what can the fans expect to see from your team in the FIH Hockey Olympic qualifiers
Scott Tupper:
It will be not be quite like the stadium in India for the World Cup but it might be like a club atmosphere in Europe. Fans will be right tight to the pitch. They will be almost right besides you as you are taking a sideline free hit or something like that and that is pretty fun. It’s nice to have people right there and I think it will be good regardless of whether it is a big stadium or more of an intimate venue, I think it will have a really good atmosphere and be enjoyable to play in.

What are your thoughts about your opponent in the FIH Hockey Olympic qualifiers and how is your squad feeling about these matches?
Scott Tupper:
 Ireland are a really good team. They had a good stretch for four years from 2014 or 2015 until 2017 and they will probably admit they didn’t have their greatest year over the last 12 months or so, but I think that is not indicative of their ability and they are going to be really strong and it’s going to be quite difficult. They have got some truly world class players, most notably David Harte in goal, so we will certainly have our work cut out and I imagine it will be really tight and intense games and whichever teams perform that little bit better will get that ticket [to the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020].
It will be interesting and every goal is so important, It’s something where if you are winning or losing in a game, you can’t allow a lead to be stretched against you and, if you are leading, say on day one, you have to make sure you don’t concede the goal that will maybe not lose you that game, but it will put you one goal closer the next day. So every moment is really important, especially on day one, to set yourself up really well. I think we will look more at the tactics of it and see if it changes certain things, but it will be a really unique way to play a qualifier for sure. 

Finally, what would qualifying for the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 mean to you and your team?Scott Tupper: The Olympics has that special cachet to it. To have qualified with our team in 2016 and to be able to get back to one right away again would be really special. Canada hasn’t qualified for back-to-back Olympics since 1984 and 1988 so we are certainly excited and it would mean the world to our team and be very good for our programme and the sport in general. We are super-hopeful we can do that. 

Each qualifier consists of two back-to-back matches which will be played in the same venue. The winners of these FIH Hockey Olympic qualifiers will qualify for the 2020 Olympic hockey tournaments which will be staged in Japan’s capital city from 25 July to 7 August next year and involve 12 Men’s and 12 Women’s teams.

For complete information about the men’s and women’s draw for the FIH Hockey Olympic qualifiers, click here.

For all the latest news on the FIH Hockey Olympic qualifiers, please visit our  official event website.

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