Stern Test awaits Indian women against Olympic champions Netherlands

Olympic champions the Netherlands arrived with their Serie B team, but India’s women’s hockey team still faces a tough test as they take on their number one rival in the two-legged FIH League match, which starts here on Friday.

None of the players, who competed for the Netherlands in their successful Olympic campaign, appeared in the away team, but the Indians cannot breathe easy by the standards of the sport on Dutch soil.

The last time the two teams met during the Tokyo Olympics, the Netherlands defeated India 5-1.

However, the Indian women are doing well in their debut season so far. They are fourth in the standings with 12 points from six games.

In contrast, the Dutch team tops the table with 17 points from six games.

India captain Savita is aware of the strengths of the Netherlands, but given that they play at home and have a Dutch coach guiding them in Yankee Schopmann, he could help them in some way.

“The Netherlands is of course the first team in the world, but if we look back on our last game against them, the first game at the Olympics, we were tied 1-1 until the first half. We made mistakes in the second half.”

“Now the team is very excited because we will have the opportunity to play for the Netherlands again and that too at home, so we will do our best,” Savita said in the virtual pre-match press conference.

But the Indians can breathe a sigh of relief, because the Dutch have given these two encounters a whole new look and youthful side.

“Our main focus is on our team, but we have to respect the opponent and work on their strengths and weaknesses. The hockey club in the Netherlands is very strong, even if the main players don’t come, they have enough resources to build a strong team. team The new players have had an opportunity and want to give their best.

“We also have some key players (Salima Titi, Sharmila Devi, Laremasiyami) participating in the Junior World Cup, which gives the other players a chance,” said Savita.

The captain said it would be a mistake to underestimate the Netherlands precisely because they don’t have a single Olympian on their team. “We wouldn’t be able to catch them easily. If there were top players we would have enjoyed it a lot because we would have the opportunity to learn a lot. We can’t underestimate anyone, it all depends on how you play that day.” Rani Rampal, India’s captain at the Tokyo Olympics, where they took a historic fourth place, is in the squad and that bodes well for the team.

But Savita said that with the key tournaments planned for this year, the decision of whether Rani will play in the next two games will be decided by the coach. “As a top player, I know how happy I am to have a top player back. We were just waiting for Rani to complete her rehabilitation and come back to the team.”

“But we are not in the mood to put pressure on her because there are bigger tournaments coming up, like the World Cup in July and the Asian Games. Whether Rani plays in these two matches will be decided after consultation with a sports coach.” The Indians will be looking forward to the good job they did in their last game against the world. 5 – Germany, where they lost the first match on penalties before winning the next, again on penalties. The captain said: “We have played 6 games so far and the team has progressed game after game. The first penalty shootout against Germany didn’t go well, so I asked the girls to focus on what they were doing in training. † †

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