We don’t fear Germany, we’re confident in our abilities: Savita Punia

The Indian women’s hockey team might have been pitted against world No.5 Germany in the FIH Olympic Qualifiers but an unperturbed skipper Savita Punia said her side has the wherewithal to overcome the challenge.

At No. 6, the hosts are the second-best side in the India-leg of the Olympic Qualifiers to be held in Ranchi from January 13 to 19, and the other teams are: New Zealand (9th), Japan (11th), Chile (14th), United States (15th), Italy (19th) and the Czech Republic (25th).

The other eight teams that will fight for the Olympic spots in Valencia, Spain, include Belgium, Great Britain, Spain, South Korea, Ireland, Canada, Malaysia and Ukraine.

The top three teams from each of the qualifiers will secure their places in the Paris Olympics next year.

“We are confident in our abilities, and the rankings of opposing teams don’t faze us as we are ready to face all the tough teams that will be coming to India for the FIH Hockey Olympic Qualifier,” said Savita.

“We played Germany in July, so we know what we’re up against,” she added.

India’s chief coach Janneke Schopman echoed Savita’s confidence, saying that there was a lot to learn from their title triumph at the recent Asian Champions Trophy in Ranchi.

“A lot of things went well for us, but there are always areas where we can improve. We need to avoid unnecessary cards and make better use of our referrals,” the coach said.

“Similarly, with our attacking style of play, we have to face a lot of teams that play with 11 players behind their 25-yard line and we have to get better at creating opportunities playing against a closed defence.

“This tournament (ACT) showed we are a tough team. So, we will continue to focus on ourselves, look for ways to improve and leave no stone unturned in our preparation for the Olympic Qualifier,” Schopman said.

“We are familiar with New Zealand, we played against the US as well in the FIH Pro League last year, but most importantly I am happy to take on these tough teams at home,” she added.

The top three teams each from Ranchi and Valencia Qualifiers will join hosts France, Australia, the Netherlands, China, Argentina, and South Africa at the Paris Olympics.

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