Women’s Pro League: India confident of putting it across strong Germany
Bhubaneswar : The Indian women’s hockey team will have some unfinished business to settle when it meets Germany in the FIH Hockey Pro League the double-header at the Kalinga Stadium here over this weekend.Germany had defeated India in the women’s hockey competition at the Tokyo Olympics in 2021. Despite that 2-0 defeat to Germany, the Indian women’s team finished fourth in the preliminary group. The story took a turn after that as India defeated Australia in quarters before losing to Argentina and Great Britain to eventually finish fourth. Germany, on the other hand, lost to Argentina in the quarter-finals.The Indian women’s team continued with its good run in the FIH Pro League too, winning three of its four matches so far.India defeated China 7-1 in the first match and then 2-1 in the second. In their next outing after Spain at Bhubaneswar, India overcome Spain 2-1 but then lost 3-4 in the next match at the Kalinga Stadium on February 27.
So, when they meet Germany in the first match of the double-header on Saturday, India will be hoping to avenge their 2-0 defeat to the European team ranked fifth in the world, placed four spots above India in FIH Rankings.Germany have a 4-1 edge in head-to-head and have never played in India and have no experience of playing in the hot and humid conditions of India, especially in Bhubaneswar.
“Yes, we have never played in these conditions. The weather is quite hot and humidity is also high but we are confident of putting up our best,” said Germany team captain Lisa Nolte in a virtual press conference on the eve of the first match.The Germans are wary of the Indians, their fast and aggressive play. They also expect Indians to be at their best in home conditions.”The Indian girls are very fast and they have good skills. The weather is so hot and could be an advantage for the Indian girls. But we are optimistic we will handle the pressure and hopefully deliver a good performance,” she added.
Germany are coming into the match against India after suffering twin losses against neighbours Belgium in their first two Pro League matches. But that was in October 2021 and since then they have not played any matches in this competition. Now they have a lot of matches to play in the time remaining.
The Indians will have to guard against the German counter-attacking tactics as the European team is known to put up a strong defence and looking to surprise their opponents with quick breaks.”The Germans are known for their strong defence. We have to capitalise on our chance to get past them,” said vice-captain Deep Grace Ekka.Skipper and experienced goalkeeper Savita said the girls are confident of putting up their best. They have worked on their mental strength in the last couple of years and are ready to tackle pressure.”Since we have started playing against stronger teams, we have learned the importance of mental strength. It is a skill as important as your skills with a hockey stick. How we adapt to pressure situations can determine the results. We are happy to be given opportunities to face off against a strong team such as Germany and we hope we can showcase the strengths that we have worked on in the training,” Savita said.The Indians will be hoping to exploit home conditions and gain maximum points against Germany before they go into the next round of matches in April.