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One step away: India takes on Germany in Women's Hockey Olympic qualifiers

One step away from the 2024 Paris Olympics berth, Indian women's hockey team will face strong Germany in semi-finals.

One step away: India takes on Germany in Womens Hockey Olympic qualifiers
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Indian women's hockey team end their FIH Pro League campaign with a defeat

By

Pritish Raj

Published: 17 Jan 2024 2:49 PM GMT

Ranchi: Indian women's hockey team will have to produce their best game against higher-ranked Germany in the semi-finals of the Olympic qualifiers on Tuesday to secure a berth at the 2024 Paris Olympics.

Coming back spectacularly from the disappointment of the first loss at the USA, the Indian team defeated New Zealand and Italy to make their way to the semi-finals.

A win will secure the Paris berth for India and a loss will mean that India will battle it out in the third-place playoff match against Japan or the USA.

Coach Janneke Schopman would want India to play to their strength and stick to the gameplan.

"I will prefer that my team sticks to its strength and don't lose the sight of our gameplace, we will do fine,"said Schopman in pre match press conference.

"I know Germany is strong team and they will put pressure on us but I will prefer Germany not getting 15 penalty corners like Japan gifted them. I am expecting an astute defence tomorrow," she added further.

After the defeat against the USA, Indian team bounced back well and performed as a well-oiled machine in the next two games to finish at second place in Pool B.

Talking about the learning from the first loss, Skipper Savita Punia said,"Our learning from the first game was that we need to turn up as a team and don't take much pressure. The New Zealand game was a game of nerves and we turned up as the team that day to secure the win."

"Germany is a team of brilliant individuals and we plan to focus on our defence while countering them whenever we get a chance," said Savita about tackling the German challenge.

Indian defence has done brilliantly in past two matches and they will have to maintain their composure when the Germans will attack with tight shape.

Indian midfield has been phenomenal with Salima Tete putting her speedy skates and Neha Goyal combining with her. Although, the midfield needs to be aware about their positioning while facing an opponent like Germany.

In absence of experienced Vandana Katariya, Indian forward has done well in past two games but they need to be composed on the ball.

India's biggest issue has been penalty corner but Udita has emerged as the solution with three penalty corner goals in past two games. Janneke Schopman also believes that Deepika will come good if she takes the penalty corner.

Penalty corner conversion has been a thorny issue for the Indians but in the last match against Italy, Udita Duhan, playing her 100th international, came as a saviour for India, converting two set pieces with her trademark slap shots.

"Deepika is a very good drag-flicker but in most of the PCs we got yesterday she was not in the field. The one time she was there we miss-trapped the push," coach Janneke Schopman said.

With the Ranchi crowd reeling behind the team with every move, Indian team will have a golden chance at their 2024 Paris Olympics dream tomorrow and they would want to make it count.

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