In a bid to prepare for the Rio 2016 Summer Games which are scheduled in August this year, Hockey India is not leaving any stone unhurled towards the target- games readiness. In lieu with the idea, the Indian eves will start their campaign against England on May 1, on their tour to England and obvious things for them will be to learn from mistakes committed at the Hawke’s Bay Cup and starting off strongly.
While the most important aspect that the Indian team will be working upon will be their penalty corner conversions.
As the Chief Coach Neil Hawgood, says about the team led by Captain Ritu Rani and Vice-Captain Dipika Thakur,”It isn’t just winning and converting corners that has been singled out, but also not giving away too many to our opposition.”
A tour which is seen as the process of training for the mega show at Brazil, India, currently ranked 13th on FIH Ranking, is pitched against England, ranked 6th, their focus shouldn’t move from their penalty corner conversion and defending their goal. While the team will be boosted with presence of Ritu Rani, who missed Hawke’s Bay Cup due to injury, it will give match practice to the player and a much needed training under match situations.
The Indian Captain was optimistic about their tour and felt,”At the Hawke’s Bay Cup, we lost our game against Japan because we conceded three goals in three minutes. After that it was 1-0 to us. We don’t start well and that puts the pressure on us.”
The Indian coach knows the importance of this tour and following tours, “All the teams that we play now (till the Olympics) are in our pool (at the Olympics). We’ve got Great Britain in. Then we are planning Australia and Japan in Australia. They’re all in our pool as well. Then prior to the Olympics we are planning three Tests against the USA who are in our pool as well,” said Hawgood.
The Indian team composes of three goal keepers in Savita, Rajani Etimarpu & Yogita Bali, Seven defenders in Sunita Lakra, Deep Grace Ekka, Deepika Thakur, Nikki Pradhan, Monika, Namita Toppo & Hnialum Lal Ruat Feli, five midfielders including Captain Ritu Rani, Navjot Kaur, Lilima Minz, Lily Chanu & Renuka Yadav and six forward strikers in Anuradha Devi, Vandana Katariya, Preeti Dubey, Poonam Rani, Rani & Punam Barla. The tour will also be test of character for younger players as well as giving them vital exposure before the Olympic Games.