10.00 pm: If you had told us at the start of the evening that Indian women will have a better scoreline against USA than Indian men against Russia, we would not have believed you. Superb from the Russians, Reid has some thinking to do before tomorrow. Join us for the second leg matches, same time as today: around 5.30 pm IST. Hope you enjoyed our coverage of a goal-filled evening.

FULL-TIME: India 4-2 Russia: Here are the full-time stats from India’s entertaining match against Russia.

FULL-TIME: India 4-2 Russia

FULL-TIME, INDIA 4-2 RUSSIA: Well, that was entertaining alright!

Q4, India 4-2 Russia: PC India in the final minute. It breaks down, but India have another. And it’s another stunning save from Gafarov! THREE STUNNING SAVES IN THE FINAL MINUTES BY THE RUSSIAN!

Q4, India 4-2 Russia: GOALLLLL! The Russians have their second. That is richly deserved, it must be said. Matkovskiy converts from the PC to reduce the deficit to two. And India’s nasty habit of conceding late is out in the open again.

Q4, India 4-1 Russia: CHANCE, INDIA! The Indian forwards force a save from Gafarov after hitting the post (replays show that was actually a stunning save to divert the ball on to the post!) This followed a superb forward move from their own half by India. Russia hanging on... but wait, they have another PC at the end.

Q4, India 4-1 Russia: India make a mess of that PC and Russia break forward but the counterattack finishes with a reverse hit that goes wide. 150 seconds left in this match now.

Q4, India 4-1 Russia: It took a while but India have exerted their control over proceedings in this tie. The final quarter is now about holding on to the lead, not making any mistakes at the back and score if possible. Patience is key....and as we say that India win another PC.

Q4, India 4-1 Russia: Penalty corner for Russia, but the drag flick is dragged wide. India now try to keep ball in their own half, perhaps understandably. Five minutes and a few seconds left in the match.

Q4, India 4-1 Russia: GOALLLL INDIA! Sunil to Manpreet, Manpreet to Mandeep.... GOAL! It’s the second of the night for the Indian forward and that is neat play on the counter by the hosts. A scoreline that flatters India but they are making their supremacy count here.

Q4, India 3-1 Russia: Credit to Russia, they have not given up this yet. Pathak, back in the goal for the final quarter, has been forced into a couple of saves. Seven minutes to go in the match, can India avoid conceding late?

Q4, India 3-1 Russia, GOALLLL INDIA! Well, the Russian defence has come under increasing pressure and that pays off for India. SV Sunil deflects the ball into the net after good work down the right by Nilakantha.

Q4, India 2-1 Russia: CHANCE, INDIA! Another PC for India, drag flick from Rupinder is saved by the defence as is the rebound. India looked destined to score there but Russia kept it out.

Q4, India 2-1 Russia: Right then, time for the final 15 minutes of this first leg. Russia will be super pleased if the match ends this way, while India might not want to push forward too much. Could be another cagey *quarter.

END OF Q3, India 2-1 Russia: A deflection attempted by Ramandeep Singh but the ball goes high over the bar. Close from India but Russia will be super-pleased with a goalless third quarter.

Q3, India 2-1 Russia: A bit cagey at the moment from both sides and that is credit to Russia. They are sticking to their game plan and frustrating India. And it’s not all defence either. India meanwhile are losing possession a bit too easily going forward. 90 seconds left in this quarter.

Q3, India 2-1 Russia: Good review. Russia keep their referral and India go back to building possession from the back.

Q3, India 2-1 Russia: Penalty corner, India. Referred immediately by Russia. 8 to go in the third quarter, will India double their advantage?

Q3, India 2-1 Russia: India’s 2nd goal came after a period of sustained possession. That should be the way forward, ideally for Manpreet and Co. Chasing shadows will result in Russians tiring eventually.

Q3, India 2-1 Russia: The game continues to be tight. Russia’s strategy is clear...win the ball back and move it forward quickly, with the use of aerial passes. Here they come again at India’s goal, with some good build-up play. Reid looks like a concerned man at the moment.

Q3, India 2-1 Russia: SAVE! Sreejesh is back in goal for India and he is forced into an early save. More good work by Russia, with quick vertical passing.

Q3, India 2-1 Russia: Need to plug the holes when they have room to play the ball behind our defence, says India coach Reid. India get us going in Q3.

HALF-TIME, India 2-1 Russia: 10-8 in circle penetrations, 7-6 on shots, and even more than 50% possession. Tells you how close that half was. India have the edge. But it is just that – an edge. Russia have put their bodies on the line here.

HALF-TIME, India 2-1 Russia: Russia, in this Odisha heat, are probably going to tire out like crazy but they have been good so far. India upped their game towards half time but there were real sloppy moments that would concern Reid.

HALF-TIME, India 2-1 Russia: Well, that was exciting alright? If we were expecting some sort of a repeat of the 10-0 scoreline from the last time these two teams met...it was actually a very even half of hockey. The Russians actually could have easily been in the lead twice but the hosts are in front at the moment. Good game to watch.

Q2, India 2-1 Russia: PENALTY CORNER INDIA! Akashdeep wins the PC for India after some wonderfully patient build-up play. Lovely save by the Russian GK Gafarov. Strong left hand. Harmanpreet it was, with the drag flick.

Q2, India 2-1 Russia: One minute left in the half... India doing the right thing but controlling possession and recycling the ball from end to end.

Q2, India 2-1 Russia: Here’s a look at that finish by Mandeep Singh.

Q2, India 2-1 Russia: It was Vivek Sagar Prasad with assist for Mandeep’s goal. Great awareness to find the forward in space. Will this goal settle the Indians down?

Q2, India 2-1 Russia, GOALLLL, INDIA! Well, that’s more like it from the hosts. Mandeep Singh traps the ball well inside the circle latching on to a free hit and India are back in the lead again. Superb forward play from the Indian striker.

Q2, India 1-1 Russia: BIG CHANCE FOR RUSSIA! Lepeshkin throws his stick at a long pass into the circle from the right and almost puts Russia ahead. The ball goes the bar, luckily for India. So sloppy from the men in blue and Russia are definitely the better side so far overall in this match.

Q2, India 1-1 Russia: Well, Russia continue to charge forward. Pathak is forced into a save after a superb reverse down the left flank from Russia’s forward. India need to wake up at the moment.

Q2, India 1-1 Russia, GOALLLLL RUSSIA! Well, well. You have to say that was coming. Poor stick control from Rupinder in defence sees Andrey Kuraev latch on to a loose ball and drive at the defence before finding the net, with a stunning low strike! (Replays show a deflection too.) Crowd silenced a bit.

Q2, India 1-0 Russia: This is not uncommon... a change between the sticks for India, who do like to rotate the goalkeeper role. Krishan Pathak is on the field now, says the commentator.

End of Q1, India 1-0 Russia: The first quarter ends with India on the ascendancy. Akashdeep Singh with some lovely stick work outside the circle as India work a good move but Russia clear the danger. But as it stands, Russia can take heart from the first quarter display. This has not been one-sided by any means.

Q1, India 1-0 Russia: The Indians will be happy with the early lead for sure but Sreejesh might have been a bit surprised with how busy he has been in this first quarter. Couple of minutes left to go for the hooter as Russia come forward again.

Q1, India 1-0 Russia: The men in blue see out the danger from the PC. India need to settle down here, they are looking a bit too rushed despite the early goal.

Q1, India 1-0 Russia: Sreejesh forced into another save and soon after Russia have a Penalty Corner! It’s been a bright start, actually, by the visiting side.

Q1, India 1-0 Russia: Ramandeep goes close! That was a good effort by the forward on the reverse, but it goes wide. At the other end, Sreejesh is called into action AGAIN! Russia would take heart from the fact the Indian GK has been called into action twice already.

Q1, India 1-0 Russia: GOALLLLLL, INDIA! Harmanpreet Singh, makes no mistake. Very calm, collected as he slots home the stroke to put India ahead. This could get ugly for Russia if they don’t steady themselves.

Q1, India 0-0 Russia: Manpreet was leading India’s charge in that attack and it was his shot that was saved by Galarov. The captain was quick to refer. And wow, it’s a PENALTY STROKE FOR INDIA! Good referral, Manpreet.

Q1, India 0-0 Russia: All eyes will be on Harmanpreet Singh every time India get a PC. The hosts have started well so far.... big chance in open play but the men in blue cannot convert a three-on-one situation. India refer and ask for a PC.

Q1, India 0-0 Russia: For what it’s worth here is the starting XI for India. There will be plenty of substitutions though, as is the case in hockey.

Q1, India 0-0 Russia: Pushback at Kalinga Stadium!

8.10 pm: National anthems underway.... On paper, the Indian men, ranked fifth in the world, are expected to have a cakewalk against the Russians. At this very venue, as recently as June, India beat Russia 10-0 in the FIH Hockey Series Final. But coach Reid is very well aware that one bad day in office can ruin India’s Olympic dream.


It’s simple: the biggest threat for the Indian men’s hockey team will be themselves. Without disrespect to Russia, complacency will be India’s biggest enemy over this weekend and as cliched as it is, that has been the buzzword from the camp in the lead-up to the tournament. Manpreet Singh-led men’s team, under the tutelage of Graham Reid, have repeatedly called for focus, promising to not underestimate their opponents ever since the tie was announced and really, it’s as much telling the hockey world as telling themselves.

India 5-1 USA: Well, that was some second-half performance by the Indian women. Stay tuned, the men’s match is coming up shortly. They take on Russia.

India 5-1 USA: The Indian captain thanks the Kalinga Stadium crowd for the support. Says this match is now over, and the focus immediately shifts to the second leg tomorrow. USA will need to win by 4 goals to force a shootout.

India 5-1 USA: Player of the match is Rani Rampal.

FULL-TIME: JOB HALF DONE FOR RANI RAMPAL AND CO! The Kalinga Stadium counts down the final seconds as India celebrate a 5-1 win in their first ever match at the stadium. A 11-minute spell in Q3 and Q4 saw India score four goals and put themselves on the brink of making history. A good evening’s work for Marijne’s team.

Q4, INDIA 5-1 USA: Final seconds of the match as India continue to defend alright under pressure. Savita is back in the goal but Marijne will be hoping the passivity at the end is not going to punish the hosts.

Q4, INDIA 5-1 USA: Another PC wasted by USA. Once again the trapping takes forever for the visitors and India save it easily and even have a big chance to score down the other end. Wild final ball, eludes Sharmila at the center.

Q4, INDIA 5-1 USA: Penalty corner for USA. Matson in the thick of things once again.

Q4, INDIA 5-1 USA: Big chance for USA to score a second but Matson completely misses a reverse hit a yard or two away from goal. Another goal for USA here would have made Indians a bit nervous. Three minutes left in the match.

Q4, INDIA 5-1 USA: PENALTY STROKE USA AND GOAL!Rajani in the goal now for India after Nikki concedes a late tackle to give USA a penalty stroke. The goalkeeper substitution doesn’t make a difference as Erin Matson pulls one back for the Americans.

Q4, INDIA 5-0 USA: Caution would do for India at the moment.

Q4, INDIA 5-0 USA: GOALLL INDIA!! FOUR GOALS IN 11 MINUTES! Gurjit Kaur makes no mistake with the stroke after Monika won the penalty stroke for India. This is a big deal for the Indians now.

Q4, INDIA 4-0 USA: PENALTY STROKE GIVEN TO INDIA! This is being referred by the USA players. Stick on stick inside the circle presumably given against USA. Decision...stands! Big chance for India to go 5-0 up.

Q4, INDIA 4-0 USA: Lot of time taken by the officials to refer this one. No clear reason to change decision, India lose referral. PC remains for USA. Can they pull one back? Too much time taken to trap the injection, India clear the danger.

Q4, INDIA 4-0 USA: Referral by India after USA are awarded by a PC with 10 mins to go.

Q4, INDIA 4-0 USA: India down to 10 players for now with Sushila getting a green card but it looks like the wind has been knocked out of the sails for USA. Remember, this is a two-legged tie so it’s 4-0 with four quarters and bit more left essentially.

Q4, INDIA 4-0 USA: MAKE THAT THREE GOALS IN SIX MINUTES! Brilliant from India to strike on the counter and they have all but put the tie to bed now, you’d think. Navneet Kaur with the field goal. Superb start to the final quarter.

Q4, INDIA 3-0 USA: As the USA push forward in this quarter, gaps will open up for India. Will they add to their tally?

End of Q3, INDIA 3-0 USA: TWO GOALS IN TWO MINS — that’s the trick to India’s brilliant showing in the third quarter. The hosts have a handy lead now thanks to goals from Sharmila Devi, Gurjit Kaur.

Q3, INDIA 3-0 USA: SAVE!! Bing is by far the busier of the two goalkeepers. Another PC for India, another reflex save by the US custodian.

Q3, INDIA 3-0 USA: GOALLLLL, INDIA! SUPERB WORK down the right channel from Rani Rampal to win a penalty corner and the brilliant Gurjit Kaur will not be denied tonight. Converts the PC with aplomb this time. What a Q3 this has been! The men’s team are cheering on their colleagues from the dressing room.

Q3, INDIA 2-0 USA: GOALLLLL, INDIA! The lead doubles eventually for India, and once again it feels like it is against the run of play. Lalremsiami does superbly down the left byline to latch on to a through pass from Lilima and Sharmila Devi is on hand at the edge of the goal to deflect the ball in. The No 7 doubles India’s advantage!

Q3, INDIA 1-0 USA: SAVE! Superb from the USA keeper to keep out a powerful drag flick from Gurjit. Looked like that was going in. The score remains 1-0 with six minutes left in Q3.

Q3, INDIA 1-0 USA: India seem to be content staying deep at the moment and looking to hit on the break. USA continue to enjoy good spells of possession. But it is India who have another PC at the other end after good work by Lilima. Can they make it 2-0?

Q3, INDIA 1-0 USA: CHANCE! The PC is saved by Kelsey Bing but the ball comes to Lalremsiami down the left....she mishits her shot completely. Big chances being missed by both sides.

Q3, INDIA 1-0 USA: Vandana takes a massive blow on her body down the left flank. She is ok to get up and go off the pitch, hopefully it’s nothing serious for India’s sake. The hosts now have their fourth PC.

Q3, INDIA 1-0 USA: Both sides happy to sit back for now. Here’s a look at the first-half stats.

Q3, INDIA 1-0 USA: Back for the second half at the Kalinga Stadium as players change ends. India attack from left to right and start off on the front-foot. Will we see the hosts push on their advantage?

HALF-TIME, INDIA 1-0 USA: Marijne must be heaving a sigh of relief. India go into the break with the lead. Lilima with the goal in the 28th minute. Americans must be wondering how on earth they are behind at half-time but they have shown already that they are a dangerous side. This is not over.

Q2, INDIA 1-0 USA: Here’s a look at the goal as the clock winds down.

Q2, INDIA 1-0 USA: GOALLLLLLL, INDIA! Lilima puts the hosts ahead! A series of mishits starting from a PC that is not trapped... the ball eventually breaks for Neha Goyal down the left byline as she keeps her calm and plays a lovely pass across goal. Lilima Minz taps into the open net.

Q2, India 0-0 USA: PENALTY CORNER INDIA! Good work from Vandana. Gurjit with the drag flick, blocked well. India have another PC though.

Q2, India 0-0 USA: CHANCES! Sharkey is at the heart of everything good from USA so far. And how have India not conceded so far! Losing possession so often, a more lethal side would have punished India already. The USA captain with a darting run first down the right that sees Reena intervene at the last minute. Then she wins another PC but the variation is missed. Two mins and a bit more to go, India are under the pump.

Q2, India 0-0 USA: The hosts are rarely able to build a move from the back so far in this match... and as we say that, Salima makes a superb defence from her own half. The final ball is missing though. Can’t imagine, however, Marijne being happy with the build-up play.

Q2, India 0-0 USA: WIDE! Sharkey goes for power too but her shot is wide. The game is opening up right now.

Q2, India 0-0 USA: SAVED! Good charge from the USA defence as Gurjit Kaur goes for power down the middle. Brilliant from the GK actually. At the other end, the USA skipper wins a PC for her side.

Q2, India 0-0 USA: Penalty corner! First of the night for either side and it’s the Indian captain with some superb work down the left byline. Can India go ahead now with 8 mins left to half-time?

Q2, India 0-0 USA: The Americans now trying to recycle possession and keep India quiet. Five minutes gone in Q2 as India win the ball back in midfield but Vandana cannot find the right pass going forward. USA come forward then and there is a BIG SAVE from Savita!

Q2, India 0-0 USA: Much better from India to start off in the second quarter. A ball into the circle from the left flank almost finds Sharmila Devi a few yards away from goal. She cannot get the telling touch. More pressure from India down the right. Good signs for the hosts.

END OF Q1, India 0-0 USA: If Marijne had a game plan that he wanted his team to follow, it is highly doubtful he will be satisfied at the end of the first quarter. It is a very close, cagey game but India have been second best so far without a doubt. Savita is the GK who has been busier, keeping the scores level.

Q1, India 0-0 USA: Lilima Minz gets a green card (two mins off the pitch) as the first quarter comes to a close. Can USA make the most of the advantage?

Q1, India 0-0 USA: Marijne must be a worried manager at the moment! Savita forced into making a save with her legs as the ball comes in from the right and gets deflected goalwards. Cleared by the Indian defence after that. Nervous moments.

Q1, India 0-0 USA: The Americans have settled down at the Kalinga Stadium are seeing more of the ball now. Three circle penetrations in the last few minutes. India are a bit lethargic in possession at the moment. Tempo seems to be off for Marijne’s team at the moment. Seven minutes left in the first quarter.

Q1, India 0-0 USA: The Americans guilty of losing possession a bit too easily in the early exchanges. Finally, a good move from the visitors down the right but the finishing touch is missing.

Q1, India 0-0 USA: India with the early pressure as expected. Monika seeing plenty of the ball down the right. USA happy to sit back for now as India press high off the ball.

Q1, India 0-0 USA: Here we go in Bhubaneshwar! India on the front-foot already...

6.10 pm: As confirmed by the commentator, this is the first time the Indian women’s team is playing at the now-iconic hockey venue in Bhubaneshwar. Big, big moment. Marijne takes his place at the dugout, Janneke (also from Netherlands) is the USA coach. All set for the pushback!

6.08 pm: Confirmation of the starting XIs...

India’s starting XI: Rani (C), Gurjit, Monika, Reena, Deep Grace, Savita (GK), Navjot, Vandana, Sushila, Namita, Lilima

USA’s starting XI: Moyer, Magadan, Hoffman, Young, Dessoye, Froede, Sharkey, Paolino, Van Sickle, Manley, Bing (gk).

6.06 pm: A roar goes up at the Kalinga Stadium as Rani Rampal (with a massive smile on her face!) leads her team out after the USA players make their way to the middle. Doesn’t quite look to be full house but the noise levels seem high enough already. Time for national anthems....

6.04 pm: “Most important to stick to the game plan we have prepared,” says coach Marijne adding that there is definite motivation playing in front of the home fans and not added pressure.

6.01 pm: The Kalinga Stadium has witnessed some sensational crowds for Indian hockey but the women’s team has rarely played in front of the home crowds. Tonight, they will need the help from the stands as they take on 13th-ranked USA. A significant advantage for Rani’s side is that this visiting USA team has not played a match in Indian conditions.

5.58 pm: India chief coach Sjoerd Marijne exuded confidence ahead of the match.

“We are really excited. These are the two matches we waited to play the whole year,” Marijne said. “We knew we had to play these matches but didn’t know whether we were playing home or away and against whom. We’ve prepared well. The moment is here and we are ready.”

India captain Rani echoed her coach’s sentiment. “Our first target to qualify for the Olympics was the Asian Games and unfortunately we couldn’t. As soon as Asian Games got over, our focus shifted to these matches,” Rani said.

“Through the year we have waited as well as prepared for these two matches. We are excited to play in front of a huge home crowd. I don’t think we will be under any pressure. At the blow of the whistle our focus shifts to our plan on what we need to do. It is up to us on how we get the crowd on our side,” the skipper added.

5.52 pm: In the history of the Olympic Games, Indian women have featured only twice (since the event started in 1980). The Rio Olympics saw Rani Rampal’s team struggle at the big stage as they returned after 36 years. But this team has come a long way since then. History awaits them as they look to play in back-to-back Olympic Games for the first time.

5.45 pm: Here’s what you need to know about the (fairly straightforward) qualification process:

Teams will be ranked according to the number of points each has accumulated in both matches (for each match, 3 points are awarded to the winner, 1 point to each team in the event of a draw and 0 point to the loser). If there is equality among the two teams, then the teams will be ranked according to their respective goal difference. If the equality remains, a shoot-out competition will be played to establish the winner. For example, if India win their first match 4-2 and lose the second 0-1, they will still progress because of a better goal difference. If the score in the second match is 0-2, a shootout will be played.

5.40: For those just joining us, here’s a confirmation of what’s ahead:

Friday, 1 November 2019:

Women: India v USA (Match 1 of 2) - 1800 IST
Men: India v Russia (Match 1 of 2) - 2000 IST

Saturday, 2 November 2019:

Women: India v USA (Match 2 of 2) - 1800 IST
Men: India v Russia (Match 2 of 2) - 2000 IST

The matches are live on Star Sports network and Hotstar.

5.36 pm: On paper, Indian women are ranked higher than their opponents but this is not going to be an easy task by any means. Since 2016, USA have lost just one of their five encounters against India, with their most recent meeting at the Hockey Women’s World Cup London 2018 finishing 1-1.

5.30 pm: First up, in 30 minutes from now, is the first leg of the women’s match. Rani Rampal and Co take on USA in what is going to be a very tricky encounter. Here are the starting lineups for both sides.

5.25 pm: Hello all and welcome to the live coverage of the all-important FIH Hockey Olympic Qualifiers!

In an ideal scenario for an Indian hockey fan, we would not be here today but neither the men’s nor the women’s team could seal their Olympic Games spot at the Asian Games last year....so this is it. The final chance.

The line-up for the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 hockey competitions will be confirmed this weekend as the final three days of the FIH Hockey Olympic qualifiers take place around the world.

Last weekend, six nations secured berths at next year’s global sporting showpiece, with Australia women, China women, Spain’s women and men, Netherlands men and Canada men all winning their respective two-game play-offs over three dramatic days of action. With ten teams having already achieved Olympic qualification by winning their respective continental championships, there are now just eight - four men, four women - of the 24 Olympic tickets unassigned, something that will be resolved between Friday 1 and Sunday 3 November 2019.

For us, it is all about the four matches in Odisha. India’s women (World Ranking: 9) face USA (WR: 13) in their two-match Olympic qualifier, while India’s men (WR: 5) - the eight times Olympic champions - go head-to-head with Russia (WR: 22).

Big weekend in Indian hockey, that’s for sure.