India women to rely on pace to outwit rivals
The India women's hockey team plans to outpace its opponents during the Olympic qualifying tournament, which begins at the National Stadium from February 18.
Among the five teams — Canada, Poland, Italy, Ukraine and South Africa, the latter are considered the most potent in the group, and the India players are of the view that it is South Africa who stand between their dreams and an Olympic berth.
"We are not taking any team lightly, but South Africa will be a hard nut to crack. Winning against them would mean getting a passage to the London Games," said Rani Rampal, a key member of the forward line.
Skipper Asunta Lakra concurred. "South Africa are the team we need to keep a watch on," she said at the end of the practice match on Thursday.
On the team's preparations, Lakra said, "The aim is to recoup and maintain good fitness."
Since the other teams will also be aiming at a London berth, Subhadra Pradhan, the team's most experienced player, said the plan was to gain the upper hand early on. "If the pace of our attack isn't fast enough, it won't have an impact."
To work towards this, the girls played a few practice matches with local boys' teams, and Thursday was their last chance to fine-tune the tactic.