Sjoerd Marijne says Argentina tour gave confidence of playing against top side

Indian women's hockey team head coach Sjoerd Marijne says the recently-concluded "exposure trip" against Argentina has helped the players understand what it takes to beat a top team.

Indian women's hockey team coach Sjoerd Marijne.   -  SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT

Indian women's hockey team head coach Sjoerd Marijne says the recently-concluded "exposure trip" against Argentina has helped the players understand what it takes to beat a top team.

The Indian core group played two draws (2-2, 1-1) against the Argentina Junior team and lost two matches (1-2, 2-3) to Argentina 'B' team before losing a couple more (2-3, 0-2) and eking out a 1-1 draw against the world number two side.

The team will return home on Wednesday after playing its first competitive tour since the coronavirus-induced break. "In all three matches against the senior women, it was very closely contested, and the matches could have gone either way. Even the match where we lost 0-2, they (Argentina) were very effective, but our quality of play was very high in that game," Marijne said in a release issued by Hockey India.

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Positive step

"Overall, this tour has helped us gain that confidence of playing against a top side like Argentina. We had the chance to experience what it takes to beat a team like Argentina and the areas we need to focus on to succeed against a quality side. This is a positive step in our preparations for the Olympic Games."

After returning to India, the core group will have a two-week break before regrouping at the Sports Authority of India (SAI), Bengaluru campus for the National Coaching Camp.

"Once we return to Bengaluru, we will evaluate these matches again and use this as a benchmark to make further progress in our performance. This tour has surely helped a lot," Marijne said.

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Winning mindset

Speaking about the players' experience, skipper Rani said, "In 2017 when we played against Argentina at the World League semifinal, we stood no chance of coming close to them. We couldn't go into their circle. We couldn't create opportunities or PCs (penalty corners).

"I remember, before going into matches against top teams like Argentina, we would tell each other that we should try and keep the score low, but now we go into these matches wanting to win.

"There's a big difference now, and with a little more change to our game, we can definitely beat top teams. The whole experience of the tour was fantastic, and we know the level we are at despite a year-long break in competitions due to covid-19."