London: Indian Women’s Hockey team is all set to take on hosts England in their opening match of the World Cup here at Lee Valley Hockey Center on July 21.
Reflecting on the opening match, Indian skipper Rani asserted confidence and said that the pressure will be on England and not on the Indian side.
“They will have the home ground advantage but we are not new to playing in front of big crowds. We have done well against England before and we will carry the confidence of doing well in our recent tournaments including the CWG where we had tasted victory against England in the Group Stage in Gold Coast. We will go into the match with the belief that we can beat them,” Rani said.
She further said that the Indian team should only make sure that they don’t make silly mistakes as it did in the Bronze Medal match at the Commonwealth Games (CWG).
“We have had good match practice against two of the top teams in the World. The team is upbeat and excited ahead of the first match and right now, our only focus is to do well against England. We have played the USA and Ireland too in the past and have a specific game plan against them. But for now, our focus is on the first match,” she added.
India’s previous appearance at the International Hockey Federation (FIH) World Cup was in 2010 when the event was held in Argentina. Then, Rani played a central role in India’s ninth-place performance as she had scored a maximum of seven goals for the team during the course of the tournament.
While there will be a lot, riding on Rani during the tournament, she has a unit that has shown confidence-inspiring performance over the past two years where India even climbed to a career-best ranking of world number 10.
Showing belief in his team, Indian Chief Coach Sjoerd Marijne said that he has got enough experience in the team and he would like to look at the positives.
“The team, especially the forward-line does not depend on Rani alone anymore to score goals. We have young strikers including the experience of Vandana Katariya with 200 plus International Caps who have scored on multiple occasions for the team,” Marijne said.
“I like to look at the positives we have and having a drag-flicker like Gurjit Kaur who is one of the best in the world is also an advantage we have,” he added.
India is grouped in Pool B along with world number 16 Ireland, world number 7 USA and world number 2 England.
On a related note, the 14th edition of the women’s world cup is scheduled to be held from July 21 to August 5 in London, England. (ANI)