Indian hockey team stronger with Vandana Kataria: Poonam Rani
Antwerp, June 13 (IANS)
Indian women's hockey team forward Poonam Rani said on Saturday that striker Vandana Kataria will add venom to their attack during the Hockey World League (HWL) Semi-Finals here from June 20 to July 5.
Rani said that the team missed Vandana, 23, at the Hawke’s Bay Cup where India finished last – 8th.
“We clearly missed Vandana during the Hawke's Bay Cup. Her being back in the team strengthens our attack as she is good with speed and skill, to break the defence chain, which at times leaves the opponents on the back foot,” said the 21-year-old Rani.
Vandana has scored 35 goals in 120 appearances for the national team while Rani has 24 goals in 140 matches.
A top-3 finish in the 10-team tournament will earn any side an Olympic berth while a top-4 finish will help them qualify for the HWL Final to be played in Argentina in December.
“The tournament is really tough, but the aim is the berth for the Rio Olympics. We are geared up as a team. The key will be to take the crucial passes as this enables keeping possession of the ball and moving further towards the opponent's defence wall,” said Rani.
“This is possible if we keep pace with each other. We have been working on our passes and tackles and we are confident of a good start.”
India have been grouped in Pool B with Australia, hosts Belgium, New Zealand and Poland. They will play their first match against Belgium on June 20.