New Delhi: Former champions India were on Tuesday, handed a favourable draw for the Olympic men's field hockey qualifiers, even as South Korea and Spain faced a tough journey to London.
India will play lower-ranked teams on home soil in the first of three qualifying tournaments, according to the draw released by the International Hockey Federation (FIH).
India, eight-time Olympic gold medallists who failed to qualify for the Beijing Games, were drawn with Canada, France, Poland, Egypt and the United States in the New Delhi tournament from February 15-26.
World number six South Korea will take on Asian Games finalists Malaysia, Ireland, Russia, Chile and Ukraine in Dublin from March 10-18.
Spain, silver-medallists at Beijing and currently ranked fourth, face hosts Japan, China, Austria, the Czech Republic and Cuba in the third qualifying tournament in the Japanese city of Kakamigahara from April 25-May 6.
The winner of each of the three tournaments will join the nine direct qualifiers in the 12-team event at next year's London Games.
The teams that have already qualified, mainly through continental quotas, are defending champions Germany, hosts Britain, Argentina, Australia, Belgium, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Pakistan and South Africa.
The FIH also announced the qualifying line-up for the women's event with three teams joining reigning champions the Netherlands, Argentina, Australia, China, Germany, Britain, South Korea, New Zealand and the United States in the main draw.
South Africa, who had earned automatic qualification for the women's event, chose to play instead in the qualifying tournament, giving Argentina a lucky direct entry, the FIH said.