The extraordinary performance at the Tokyo Olympics was not a “surprise of a day”, said Indian women’s hockey team head coach Jeanneke Schopman, who are looking forward to this year’s World Cup.
Schopman said that after a high level in Tokyo, they are now determined to defend their Asia Cup title, which will ensure a direct qualification to the FIH Women’s World Cup, co-hosted by Spain and the Netherlands from 1 to 17 July. will be done by
Indian women recorded their best performance at the Olympics last year by finishing fourth.
“The out performance in Tokyo exceeded our expectations but we still have more benefits to take to make it to the top-6 in the world. We need to keep improving because girls don’t want to be one-day miracles,” Schopman said during a virtual press conference ahead of the Asia Cup.
“They want to be there and play against the best players in the world to the best of their ability.”
After the Olympics, Indian women played just one game at the Asian Champions Trophy in Donghe, South Korea last month after they were forced to pull out of the event after a player tested positive for COVID-19.
“We have played only one game since the Olympics. The Asia Cup is very important for us as it is a qualifying tournament for the World Cup. There is a lot at stake in the place,” said the coach.
The top four teams from the Asia Cup to be held at the Sultan Qaboos Sports Complex in Muscat from January 21-28 will directly qualify for this year’s World Cup.
Schopman said his coaching style is simple: “Work on your individual game and try to dominate opponents”.
“I have a clear vision as a coach. I wish we were more influential when in possession. We need to work on our game and strike a balance between attack and defence. What we learned from Tokyo is that we need to focus on what we can control and what we can do ourselves.”
“We need to find out what we are good at on the pitch and work on our shortcomings.”
Veteran goalkeeper Savita Punia, who will lead the side in the Asia Cup in the absence of regular skipper Rani Rampal, who is recovering from an injury, said the Tokyo Games are a thing of the past as a busy season awaits, with two big tickets. Events included – Asian Games and Commonwealth Games.
“The whole year is important for us. We have 3-4 big tournaments including CWG and Asian Games. Apart from this, we will also debut in the FIH Pro League this year.
“Our main focus is to qualify for the World Cup through the Asia Cup and then win the Asian Games to qualify directly for the 2024 Paris Olympics,” she said.
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