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The Hindu: Women team leaves for Hiroshima (6/9/2019)
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The Hindu: Women’s team leaves for Hiroshima

Coach Marijne optimistic about side’s potential

The day the men’s Hockey Series Finals concludes here next Saturday, the Indian women will kickstart their own journey to the Tokyo Olympics with the women’s HSF in Hiroshima.

As the team led by Rani Rampal left for the competition on Friday night, coach Sjoerd Marijne was optimistic about his team but also cautious in his expectations.

“As the highest ranked team, it’s important for us to win and get 500 ranking points, which will be very important when it comes to the draw for the next round of qualifiers. But we must play consistent to be successful,” Marijne said.

India, ranked ninth in the world, is grouped with Poland, Uruguay and Fiji in Pool A and opens its campaign against the 24th ranked Uruguay. Both finalists advance to the Olympic qualifiers but India would be hoping to finish on a winning note. “We had three tours before this and they went well, giving us confidence. In between, we were able to work on our fitness and specific skills during camps,” Marijne said.

“We played against different styles so we are prepared on everything. We have also worked on the mental side to grow as a team and as individuals. We worked on stuff like giving feedback to each other, leadership and taking responsibility so that we don’t get distracted or hung up on the end result,” he added.

Japan and Chile, the next highest ranked teams, are in Pool B, along with Mexico and Russia, and Marijne stressed that they could not be underestimated. While Japan is expected to make the final, the pressure would be on India since the former is both host and Asian Games winner and as such already qualified.

Marijne, though, is hopeful of India’s chances of Tokyo participation. “We are ninth and 12 teams can participate so it’s a very realistic goal for us. We are working hard to make sure we book our tickets to Tokyo but our current focus is on doing well here,” he said.

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