Indian women's hockey team captain Savita Punia said her team's approach will be to focus on themselves as they prepare to meet the Olympic champions Netherlands in their FIH Pro League matches on April 8 and 9.
The Savita Punia-led team are currently placed fourth in the points table with 12 points. They started their campaign with wins against China (7-1 and 2-1) in Muscat followed by a 2-1 win and a 3-4 loss against Spain in February at home.
In their last outing, they registered a 1-1 (1-2 shoot-out) loss and a 1-1 (3-0 shoot-out) win against Germany.
Savita Punia said the team was excited to play against the Olympic champions in the double-header. During a pre-match press conference, Savita said:
"Our team is really excited to face the Netherlands. It doesn't really matter if they have come without experienced players because it won't change their style of play. They have come with a young team but that doesn't mean they will take things casually. Their young players have been given a chance so I think they will certainly give their best. Our approach will remain the same as always and we will focus on ourselves."
We will give our best and enjoy the matches: Savita Punia
The last time both teams faced each other was during the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 in their group stage match. India lost 5-1 on that occasion and the Netherlands went on to win the Olympic gold medal. Speaking about facing the Dutch side again, Savita Punia said:
"It's great that we are getting a chance to play the Netherlands again that too at home so, of course, we will give our best and enjoy the matches."
Reflecting on the FIH Pro League campaign so far, Savita Punia said the best part of playing in the league is playing very frequently, that too against good opponents. She added:
"Earlier, we hardly used to get to play against top teams. We haven't played continuous matches against such teams before and that's the best thing about the Pro League. These matches are helping us improve. You know, it's a sort of an achievement that the teams are willing to play against us. It gives us motivation and also shows that we stand somewhere in the world."
Savita Punia stated that the team is looking forward to a good finish as it will help them play in the FIH Pro League again as well as prepare for the Olympics. She explained:
"Of course, points are important for us because we want to finish in a good position so that we again get a chance to play in the Pro League because it will help us in preparations for the Paris Olympics. However, with various major tournaments lined up, our focus has been to improve match by match and just enjoy our game."