Amstelveen: The Indian women’s hockey team has to play as a unit against the strong New Zealand in their last Pool B match on Thursday to secure a place in the quarterfinals of the FIH World Cup to be underway at Amstelveen in the Netherlands,
The Indian team, which finished fourth in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics held last year, failed to stand on the podium by a whisker. They drew their first two pool matches against China and England in the ongoing World Cup.
The Savita-led side has been occupying third place at the moment in Pool B, two points behind China. New Zealand has been leading in the pool after defeating England 3-1 on Tuesday.
As per the format of this World Cup, 16 participants are divided into four groups. The leader of four pools will automatically qualify for the quarterfinals, while teams occupying second and third place will feature in the crossovers.
In the crossover format, the second placed team from Pool A will play against the third of Pool D and vice versa, while the second from Pool B will face the third of Pool C and vice versa to decide the remaining four berths in the quarterfinals.
Therefore, India needs to knock out the Blackcaps and hope that China draws or loses its match against England to reach the top of Pool B.
The Indian defence has been impressive in both the matches and never allowed its opponents to penetrate much of the goal mouth. Midfielders and forwards have to be aggressive and score goals whenever opportunities arise.
Most of the Indian forwards were off colour in the opening two games, except Vandana Katariya, who sounded the board twice on the rebound of penalty corners.
The conversion rate of penalty corners was a concern for chief coach Janekke Schopman as India converted only two penalty corners into goals out of 12 earned in two games.
The morale of the Black Sticks women is high following their win against England.