The Indian Senior Women’s team will take on Belarus in the Semi Final of the Women’s Hockey World League Round 2 here on Saturday. While Belarus beat Canada 4-3 in the qualifier on Thursday to earn their Semi Final berth, the Indian team led by forward Rani beat Uruguay (4-2 in the penalty shootout) and Belarus (1-0) to top their Pool and make the Semi Final cut.
“We are very excited that we made the Semi Finals. We had clear goals before coming here that we must make it to the Final and win it if we want to qualify for the Women’s Hockey World League Semi Final. I think it is a realistic goal and we are prepared for a good match on Saturday,” expressed Rani.
Though the Indian eves won both their matches in Pool A, Rani feels their first game against Uruguay could have been much better and that they should have won the match in regulation time.
“We should have played that match in a much better way. When we had our post-match team meeting, we agreed that we didn’t play to our potential and marked out the mistakes we made. We could have avoided a penalty shootout situation. But I feel we improved in the second game and didn’t make the same mistakes we did in our first outing,” she said.
Moving forward in the tournament with an eye on the Final, the striker who is among the most experienced players in the squad emphasized that the team needs to score in penalty corners. Though they have been tactically impressive in terms of winning PCs, they haven’t been successful in converting them.
For instance, in the game against Belarus the Indian women won as many as five PCs but their lone goal came through a field goal. “It is an area of concern for us. We have to convert PCs in the Semi Final game and we are putting in extra minutes specifically for PCs in our practice sessions here,” she said.
It is an added advantage that the Indian team will go into Semi Final match riding on the confidence from the earlier game against Belarus, but the team is not complacent, says Rani who feels they need to be inch-perfect in their man-to-man marking to get the better of Belarus
. “We are quite upbeat and confident of a good performance against Belarus. They are a strong unit and to beat them we need to be at our best in man-to-man marking and also work on our scoring especially PC conversions,” she concluded.