India women’s hockey team coach back to drawing board after Commonwealth Games debacle

April 22, 2018



Shaken after his plans came a cropper in the Commonwealth Games at Gold Coast, women’s hockey coach Harendra Singh is planning to try something different for the World Cup (starting July 21) and the Asian Games (in August-September).

India women’s hockey team were thrashed 0-6 by England in the bronze-medal match and the team finished fourth, belying Harendra’s claims that the team was good to bag a podium finish in the quadrennial games.

“We need to try something different (for the upcoming events). We plan to pit girls against male players in match situations as it would help them prepare better,” said Harendra on the eve of the national camp, beginning at Bangalore on Sunday.

Hockey India on Saturday named 61 women players for the national camp. The group, featuring all 18 players who competed in Gold Coast, will be further pruned to 48 players on May 2.

“Playing against senior boys at the SAI centre will help them (women players) match the physical capabilities of players from England, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa at the World Cup,” said Harendra.

Before the World Cup at London in July, India women will play the Asian Champions Trophy in South Korea (May 13-20) and go on an exposure trip to Spain (June 10-19).

“Events before the World Cup give us the opportunity to rectify our mistakes, and if we are able to overcome them, we can have a podium finish at both the events,” said Harendra.

“Normally, it doesn’t happen with Indian hockey that the team stages a comeback after losing the first game at a major event. But the girls did great. We decided to forget the loss against Wales in the opening match and started afresh,” he said.

On the fourth-place finish, he said, “It is a big disappointment as we missed podium because of silly mistakes. We were expecting silver even after losing the first game and we managed to stage a comeback and made it to the semi-finals. That was a big positive.”

He said that some change in attitude of players in match situations and choice of skills at the crucial juncture was a must now. “In the match against England, despite having better penetration in the rival circle, we couldn’t convert our chances, while England managed to convert their opportunities into goals. We need to sort that out.”

Admiring Savita’s goalkeeping skills, he said that barring the last game, she was the biggest barrier for the rival forwards. “Savita was at her best in Gold Coast.”

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