Indian women's hockey team can qualify for 2016 Olympics: Coach
New Delhi, May 7 (IANS)
Newly appointed chief coach Mathias Ahrens believes that his Indian women's hockey team does have a chance of qualifying for the 2016 Rio Olympics. The German, who was appointed on Wednesday, said he was expecting his team to do well.
Addressing the Indian media for the first time on Thursday, he said, “There are 11 places for grab and South Korea has already qualified. Realistically, we have a chance and I am hoping that the girls give an outstanding performance in the World League Semi-Final.”
A good finish at the HWL can give India a spot at Rio
Ahrens' first challenge will be the Hockey World League semi-final in Antwerp from June 20 to July 5. A top-3 finish in the 10-team tournament will ensure India of a spot at Rio next year.
“We will face tough challenge in our group during World League with New Zealand and Australia, but we are aiming to give a fearless fight. More than them, our biggest competition will be Belgium as they have been playing a lot of games recently. We will look at coming around and creating our strategy before we face them,” said Arhens.
“It is important for us to win our first three matches and we qualify for the next stage of the tourney. We will work on the counterattack, which they are doing well as of now and final thing will be to take the ball over the base line and score. We will focus on this and improve.”
World No. 13 India have been placed with Australia, New Zealand, Poland and hosts Belgium in Pool B for the upcoming tournament. Only Poland is ranked lower than India.
“Today there is not much of difference between Asian, Indian or Australian style of play; finally we have to win possession of the ball. We will find ways of winning the ball and this we are doing good at this point as the defending is very good. But we have to find a way on how to take the ball fastest into attack,” said the German.
“During Hawke's Bay Cup, I saw and realised that the team's strength is the defense and from now on the focus will be on attack. I was actually surprised to see the team dynamics and they seem hungry for success.”