When Sjoerd Marijne was asked to return to his duties with the women's team in May, he accepted the offer with no preconditions, and no apparent bitterness - but made it amply clear that he had a point to prove.
"The girls will improve and soon be better than the men," he had predicted.
There were a limited number of opportunities for him to prove his point as the only tournament which was scheduled following the coach swap was the Asian Champions Trophy following which a Spanish sojourn was slated to be held as a preparatory tour ahead of the World Cup.
The Indians girls did remarkably well in the Asian Champions Trophy and entered the final, but fell short of matching their gold-medal winning performance of 2016. Just a fortnight after taking charge, Marijne joined the team at the venue after analytical coach Eric Wonink had done the groundwork at home.
The Indians beat Japan, China, and Malaysia but drew against the Koreans in the pool match and lost the finals against the hosts.
"We need to be realistic - Korea was the better team but this will inspire the girls more," the Dutchman had said after the final at Donghae.
As it turned out, Korea failed to make it to the quarterfinal of the World Cup as they went down to England last night but the Indians have done so in style beating Italy 3-0.
The tour to Spain was anything but easy, but Rani Rampal and her team managed to draw the five-match series 2-2 and were able to successfully try out various strategies at Madrid.
Incidentally, the Spaniards have made it to the quarterfinals at London too and Marijne was quite right when he had opined that the Spanish trip had served to make the Indians battle ready.
For a man who was derided and belittled after the Indian men finished fourth at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games, the achievement of his chargers at the World Cup assumes a very special significance.
In an exclusive chat with Sportskeeda from London, the Dutchman states emphatically that the girls have what it takes to go the distance.
"We did well defensively, but we can make it easier for ourselves if we execute more. We played really well in the first match against them (Ireland) and we have to do the same but the conversion from PCs and the chances must be better. Ireland came into our circle only 6 times so that’s not much," said Marijne.
When asked if the girls could have scored more goals, Marijne replied in the affirmative but was quick to point out that the Indians were rock solid at the back. "Yes, but we won and had hardly any chances against."
Not many would have expected the Indians to have made it this far, but the Indian coach made no secret of the fact that he had never doubted the ability of his team.
"We know we have the quality and you never know how far you can come but there was a lot of confidence."
Quality and confidence are two ingredients which have enabled Marijne's proteges to defy the odds in London and if the Golden Girls and their coach continue to tread the winning path, the Indians may force the record books to be rewritten in the momentous days to come.
Can the Indian Eves go all the way in the Women's World Cup? Sound off your opinions in the comments section below!Published 01 Aug 2018, 21:39 IST