It’s been two weeks because the Indian ladies’s hockey crew’s Olympic goals led to Ranchi however the facet is already planning for the following problem on the FIH Pro League starting right here on Saturday. And regardless of courageous phrases from coach Janneke Schopman about wanting ahead, it received’t be straightforward.
The two-leg mini match, throughout Bhubaneswar and Rourkela, will see India tackle China in its opening recreation, adopted by Netherlands, Australia, and USA. Barring the host, all of the groups have certified for Paris, however that received’t make it any much less difficult.
Of its 4 opponents, India has a greater file towards solely China, together with their final assembly on the Asian Champions Trophy however China received the one that basically mattered – on the Asian Games. The Dutch and the Aussies have a massively one-sided observe file however they haven’t performed India in an official competitors since 2022. India has received solely two video games towards every of them ever, in 11 and 14 matches respectively, as per FIH information – which solely acts as a reminder of why the Tokyo Olympics victory towards Australia was such a giant deal.
As the crew that ousted India from the Olympics race on the Qualifiers within the final recreation they performed earlier than coming right here, it will be a grudge match towards USA though the Indians would remember that the Americans have the coveted ticket and any wins now will solely be a reminder of what they’ve missed.
Schopman insisted she was proud of the crew’s efficiency in Ranchi – in contrast to Hangzhou – however admitted the necessity for a re-look. “As a crew, we’re nonetheless hurting, it’s been a troublesome two weeks. We wish to present we’re a superb crew. We know we received’t get the Olympics again and might solely transfer ahead and that’s our plan right here.
“I believe women’s hockey can have a very bright future and India can be a top-five country consistently but things have to change, they have to be better at many levels. I have discussed this with the team also and with Hockey India, SAI and others responsible,” she mentioned.
The crew could have skilled Vandana Katariya again, because the vice-captain, and the veteran admitted it was troublesome to see the crew miss out from exterior. “When I got injured at such a crucial moment, we were not sure how bad it was. But seeing from outside, the team played well. Everyone is sad, of course, but we are recovering slowly and hope to play good hockey here,” she hoped.
Schopman didn’t drop names however gave sufficient indications that there have been gamers underneath watch. “We now need to look at individual players and I need players to take accountability to bring their own best self to every game. That doesn’t mean you have to score, it means you have to show you want to play for India. I think we can score goals and defend well but we are playing some really good teams here so it will be interesting to see what happens and how it happens,” she defined.
Asked about not changing possibilities, Schopman was candid. “It also has to do with individual and team mindset. If there are players who feel they have to score, that’s unhelpful. We have to score as a team and also execute our skills as individuals. We do need more depth in our PC scoring, that is a concern. All other top-10 teams have five or six drag-flickers, so there’s work to be done in terms of talent development there,” she mentioned.