The Indian women’s hockey team will look to kick-start its preparation for the Asian Games in right earnest and iron out the flaws when it takes on China in the opening match of the Germany tour here on Sunday.
The Indians will play three matches on the tour -- two against hosts Germany in Wiesbaden and Rüsselsheim on July 18 and 19 respectively.
The tour holds great significance for the Indian women as it will provide a fair idea about where the team stands and what needs to be corrected ahead of the continental showpiece to be held in Hangzhou, China from September 23 to October 8.
The valuable takeaway for the Savita Punia-led Indian team from the match will be a close look at the Chinese, who will be gunning for glory at home in the Asian Games.
“The match is a good chance for us to test ourselves against an Asian opponent ahead of the Hangzhou Asian Games. We have had a long national camp at SAI Centre in Bengaluru and we have discussed the areas where we have to focus and improve upon,” India captain and goalkeeper Savita said.
Going by the rankings, world No.8 India should start as favourite against China, placed 11th, but it won’t be easy for the Janneke Schopman-coached side.
The last time the two teams played each other was in last year’s FIH Women’s World Cup in Spain and Netherlands where the match ended in a 1-1 tie.
The two teams have faced each other 17 times since the 2013 Women’s Asia Cup, with India emerging victorious on 10 occasions, while China has won five matches and two matches ended in a tie.
“We know our opponents well, and we have squared off against China multiple times in the recent past. We know what they are capable of, but at the same time, it allows us to prepare ourselves accordingly,” India vice-captain Deep Grace Ekka said.
India’s chief coach Schopman wants her players to stick to the plans and play to their strengths on the tour.
“We had a long camp before the tour and we have recognised our strengths. Both China and Germany have strong teams and well-balanced squads.
“We will continue to play to our strengths and stick to our plans and we hope to pick up good results on the tour,” Schopman said.
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