Olympic qualifier no pressure for ‘cool’ Rani Rampal

The India women’s hockey team captain feels the key lies in enjoying the moment and overcoming the nerves.

India women’s hockey team captain Rani Rampal with coach Sjoerd Marijne at the Sports Authority of India complex in Bengaluru on Tuesday.   -  PTI

 

The Indian women’s hockey team (World No. 9) will face high expectations when it takes on USA (World No. 13) in the FIH Olympic qualifier in Bhubaneswar on November 1 and 2. A victory in the two-legged tie will give the Indian women a third appearance at the Olympics (after 1980 and 2016).

For skipper Rani Rampal, the key lies in enjoying the moment and overcoming the nerves. “There is no question of feeling pressure; it is about being excited. We must remain cool and stick to our plans. We will play in front of our home fans which will work to our advantage. The crowd will act as the 12th player for us. We will use the positive energy of the crowd. We have the belief that we can do well,” Rani said here on Tuesday.

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It was Rani who scored the equaliser when the two teams last met in the 2018 World Cup. She explained that the Indian side has considerably improved since, pointing to the victorious campaign at the recent Olympic test event where India defeated the likes of Australia and Japan. “We put up consistently good shows in the test event and we will carry that confidence against USA. Each player knows her role very well, and when every individual does her part, we will find success,” Rani said.

Coach Sjoerd Marijne believes that the upcoming tour of England will help the side prepare for the tricky outing against USA. “We play five matches against England. The timing of the tour is great, as England is a physical team, similar to the USA,” Marijne said.

On what to expect from USA, Marijne said, “USA is a physical team, but we can match them. We feel confident. It doesn’t matter who we play; we are just happy to know who we are playing against. Playing in front of our home crowd in Bhubaneswar will be a first for some of our girls, but I see it as an advantage.”