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Ireland to face South Africa in Tokyo after all

Coach Sean Dancer
Coach Sean Dancer

By John Flack

Ireland's opponents at the Olympic Games have been confirmed as the Netherlands, Germany, India, Great Britain and South Africa. Coach Sean Dancer will lead his team against them in Pool A in Tokyo.

While the other nations were always going to be in Ireland's group as the line-up is based on world rankings and not an open draw, South Africa's inclusion is something of a surprise.

The South African Olympic committee had originally stated that their women's team would not be permitted to take part after they failed to meet minimum performance criteria.

They were unable to secure the top-two finish in the penultimate stage of qualifying, the FIH World Series, which the authorities had insisted upon but then progressed under International Hockey Federation rules by winning the much less daunting African Championship.

However the South Africa Olympic committee has made a U-turn and allowed the team to compete after denying them a place in Rio 2016 when they also failed to meet the same criteria.

Ireland's initial target will be to finish in the top-four of their pool which would see them progress to the knock-out stages.

Meanwhile, Pegasus stay joint top of the EY Irish Hockey League despite a 3-1 defeat by Loreto in Dublin.

Belfast Harlequins are bottom of the table after losing 3-1 at home to UCD.

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