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Rankings of teams don’t faze us, ready to face all tough teams at Olympic Qualifiers: Savita Punia

New Delhi, Nov 10 (IANS) The Indian women’s hockey team is unfazed by the prospect of taking on higher-rated teams at the upcoming FIH Hockey Olympic Qualifier, said captain Savita Punia following a successful campaign at the Women’s Asian Champions Trophy in Ranchi.

FIH Hockey Olympic Qualifier is scheduled to be held in Ranchi from January 13 to 19 with eight national teams, including Germany, Japan, Chile, Czech Republic, New Zealand, United States, Italy, and India competing to secure their spots for the Paris Olympics.

The teams are divided into two pools, with the Indian women’s hockey team placed in Pool B alongside New Zealand, the United States, and Italy, while Pool A consists of Germany, Japan, Chile, and the Czech Republic.

During the Pool stage of the FIH Hockey Olympic Qualifier, each team will face every other team in their respective group once. The top two teams from each group will then progress to the semifinals scheduled for January 18. The final as well as the 3rd/4th place match is slated to take place on January 19.

Notably, the teams that will finish in the top 3 at the FIH Hockey Olympic Qualifier Ranchi 2024 will secure their qualification for the Paris Olympics.

“We are confident in our abilities, and the rankings of opposing teams don’t faze us as we are ready to face all the tough teams that will be coming to India for the FIH Hockey Olympic Qualifier Ranchi 2024,” Savita said of the upcoming tournament as quoted by Hockey India.

When asked about the probability of facing Germany during the later stage of the tournament, she said: “We played Germany in July, so we know what we’re up against.”

Chief coach Janneke Schopman echoed Savita’s confidence, saying that there was a lot to learn from the Asian Champions Trophy where they went undefeated against Japan, China, Korea, Malaysia, and Thailand.

“A lot of things went well for us, but there are always areas where we can improve. We need to avoid unnecessary cards and make better use of our referrals. Similarly, with our attacking style of play, we have to face a lot of teams that play with 11 players behind their 25-yard line and we have to get better at creating opportunities playing against a closed defence,” she added.

“This tournament showed we are a tough team. So, we will continue to focus on ourselves, look for ways to improve and leave no stone unturned in our preparation for the FIH Hockey Olympic Qualifier Ranchi 2024. After the Asian Champions Trophy, we are back on track and we need to keep doing the right things on the way to the FIH Hockey Olympic Qualifier.

“We are familiar with New Zealand, we played the United States as well in the FIH Pro League last year, but most importantly I am happy to take on these tough teams at home,” Schopman elaborated on the preparations.

The top three teams each from Ranchi as well as from Valencia, Spain Qualifiers will join hosts France, Australia, the Netherlands, China, Argentina, and South Africa at the Paris 2024 Olympics.

The victory in the Asian Champions Trophy has catapulted the Indian women’s team back to their best-ever ranking of sixth in the world. With the Olympic Qualifier set to be held in the same venue, the Indian Eves can count on the unwavering home support to encourage them again.

“The support we received in Ranchi spurred us on. Home crowd can be an added pressure sometimes but we were mentally prepared. Janneke advised that such occasions come by rarely and that we should embrace them. The residents of Ranchi turned up in droves and we couldn’t let them down, we had to put on a show for them.

“The team knows that we will receive the same backing during the FIH Hockey Olympic Qualifier as well and if people are coming to support us the onus is on us to repay their faith,” the skipper concluded.



Indian Abroad News Desk
Indian Abroad News Desk
Indian Abroad is a news channel and fortnightly newspaper meant for Australia’s Indian community and, besides news, focuses on lifestyle subjects like health, travel, culture, arts, beauty, fashion, entertainment, Bollywood, etc. Our YouTube channel here features daily news bulletins besides infotainment videos on lifestyle subjects.

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