India faces an all-or-nothing situation at the Asia Cup

The Indian women, in the eight-team tournament, face an all-or-nothing situation as they must finish as table-toppers to clinch a ticket to the World Cup.

India will be determined to give its best shot at the Asia Cup, its last chance for qualifying for the 2018 World Cup.   -  SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT

After a dismal performance that saw the Indian women's hockey team finish a lowly eighth in the recently concluded FIH Hockey World League Semifinals, its dreams of playing in the 2018 Hockey World Cup in London seemed all but over.

However, an opportunity has presented itself in the form of the Asia Cup. The women, in the eight-team tournament, face an all-or-nothing situation as they must finish as table-toppers to clinch a ticket to the World Cup.

With the Asia Cup set to begin on October 28, the squad is slogging it out at a three-week camp at the Sports Authority of India (SAI) Bengaluru, with the aim of fielding its best side at the tourney.

Speaking to Sportstar, head coach Sjoerd Marijne stressed on the need for more consistency. “We played some good games in the HWL Semifinals but only in certain halves and not throughout the match. We made too many unforced errors and that’s the most important thing we’re working on,” said the Dutch coach. 

The team’s attack looked rather lackluster at the HWL and it was unable to effectively convert many a Penalty Corner (PC). “We worked very hard on converting PCs and it was disappointing to see that we didn't make the most of it,” said Marijne.

Captain Rani Rampal shared the same thought as her coach. “We’re looking to correct the mistakes we made and are working especially hard on the attacking front. We need to score more field goals and also improve our PC conversion.”

She added that the team is also working towards tightening its defence and aiming to not give away possession easily.

The team now heads to Netherlands for a round of friendlies, which will serve as preparation for the Asia Cup. “The girls need to gain more tactical awareness. They will play against boys teams there and the games will be more physical. It will be a great experience for them,” he said.

“We're all working very hard and the future will look bright – that's what we're all working for,” added the determined coach.

Speaking on the mounting pressure ahead of the Asia Cup, Rani said, “We know that this is our last chance to qualify for the World Cup. We are going to treat every match as a final and are not going take any team easy. It's every athlete's dream to represent the country at the World Cup and we're going to ensure we qualify for it.”