New Delhi: In less than three days' time, India will begin their quest to return to the Olympics after facing the ignominy of missing the bus to Beijing four years ago.
The qualification tournament for London 2012 begins here at the Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium, with both the men and women teams from India fighting for an Olympics berth. But while the men are almost certain to book themselves a place, the women may face stiff competition, especially from the higher-ranked South Africa.
But before the real action begins in the February 18-26 tournament, it's worth crunching a few numbers that these qualifiers roll out.
Average age: 24.8 years
Youngest team: Singapore (average age 21)
Oldest team: Canada and Poland (average age 27)
Youngest player: Muhammad Shafiz Abdul Rashid (Singapore), age 18
Oldest Player: Agustin Nunez (Italy) and Rob Short (Canada), age 39
Teenagers: 14 (3 France, 3 India, 8 Singapore)
Average international caps: 70
Least experienced team: Italy, average international caps 21
Most experienced team: Canada, average international caps 109
Most capped player: 342, Ken Pereira (Canada)
Highest-ranked team: India (10)
Lowest-ranked team: Singapore (41)
Average age: 23.5 years
Youngest team: Poland (average age 21)
Oldest team: South Africa (average age 26)
Youngest player: Jaspreet Kaur (India), age 16
Oldest Player: Olena Fritche (Ukraine), age 34
Teenagers: 22 (5 Canada, 5 India, 3 Italy, 7 Poland, 2 Ukraine)
Average international caps: 55
Least experienced team: Italy, average international caps 16
Most experienced team: South Africa, average international caps 122
Most capped player: 273, Marsha Marescia (South Africa)
Highest-ranked team: South Africa (12)
Lowest-ranked team: Poland (28)
The Indian men's team, captained by custodian Bharat Chetri, will open their campaign against Singapore on February 18 while the women begin against Ukraine on the same day. The winner of the tournament goes through to be part of the London Olympics.
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