By Pat Rowley

SEOUL, Reuter: Olympic Men’s Hockey has been dominated by Asian Countries since India won the first of eight titles in 1928. But at Seoul there is a strong chance that Asian countries will be absent from the Medal Rostrum for the first time,

Pakistan, current Olympic champions, and India filled the last two places in the 1986 World Cup and neither has been seeded to reach the Olympic semifinals.

The top four seeds in Seoul are World Champions Australia, Britain, West Germany and the Netherlands, of whom only West Germany has previously won Olympic Gold.

The 12, teams are divided into two groups of six, with the first two in each section qualifying for the semifinals.

Australia, Netherlands and Pakistan are expected to dominate group at the expense of Argentina, Spain and Kenya.

Australia have had injury problems, forcing them to replace forwards Grant Mitton and Peter Hasel hurts and left half Dean Evans, But they are still expected to head the group.

The key match for the second semifinal place in that group could be the very last, on September 26, between Netherlands and Pakistan,

Both countries have rebuilt their teams since the last Olympics. Netherlands have made steady progress, during which they won the 1987 European Cup, and have lost only four of their 21 matches in 1988.

Pakistan’s young side shaped up well at the start of 1988, finishing second to West

Germany in the Champions’ trophy at Lahore but have since faded. They failed to win their last three tournaments and recently drew a six match home and away series with India,

Group A looks more cut and dried with the very consistent German side, winners of the 1988 Champions Trophy, and Britain, shock bronze medalists at the 1984 Olympics, the favorites to qualify ahead of the Soviet Union, Canada, South Korea and India.

India, after two poor tournaments at the start of 1988, did win the Nairobi Tournament in June but Pakistan were the only other team of note there,

There must be a strong possibility of a European Hockey double for Netherlands, although not quite as formidable as in the past, they must be clear favorites to win the Women’s Competition which does not start until September 21 and is being contested for only the third time,

They play delightful possession Hockey and have an awesome penalty comer routine. Even if Lisanne Lejeune does not recover from injury, Helen Van Der Benis an equally formidable comer striker.

Australia are seeded two but have no previous medal success at either the Olympics or World Cup, with their only major success to date victory in a tournament held in Australia earlier this year.

The battle behind these two looks very open with third seeds Korea and late qualifiers, Britain, possible contenders.

Article extracted from this publication >> September 23, 1988