India put the disappointment of the previous day behind them to put in a convincing performance in the shootout to take the bonus point in a hard-fought match against Germany in the FIH Pro League in Bhubaneshwar on Sunday.
While that was a huge improvement in performance, head coach Janneke Schopman will be concerned that the team couldn’t make more of their opportunities in the 60 minutes of matchplay.
For Germany, who fielded a team of U21 players, the two matches will have provided invaluable experience of competing at the top level of women’s international hockey, in front of one of the most passionate set of spectators and in one of the most iconic hockey stadiums in the world.
It was a match of pure attrition as India and Germany took to the pitch for the second FIH Hockey Pro League match between the two teams. Both sides would have had plenty to think about after the previous day’s encounter, and India Head Coach Janneke Schopman, in a pre-match interview, confirmed that she was looking for players to be more clinical when in goal-scoring positions.
Unfortunately, 24 hours was not enough to turn that request into a reality and, despite a lot of possession and some extremely impressive build-up play, India wasted many opportunities to build up a sizeable scoreline.
In the event, it was Germany who took the lead. Felicia Wiedermann was on the end of a penalty corner routine, which began with a running injection and ended with the ball flying past Devi Kharibam in the India goal. This was just ahead of half-time and both teams trooped off the pitch after an exhausting opening two quarters.
Head coach Akim Bouchouchi said, although he was happy to be in the lead, he was not happy with much of the build-up play by his young team. ‘We are making too many faults in our build-up and allowing India to take possession too easily.’
India had squandered their referrral in the first five minutes of the game and, when Germany won a penalty stroke there was the sense that this decision would come back to haunt them. However, Jette Fleschütz’s hard shot hit the post and the score remained 1-0.
India finally broke through in the third quarter when Nisha was on hand to bundle the ball over the German goal-line after some indecision by the German defence.
Both teams had further opportunities to wrap the result up. India pushed and pushed for the winning goal but found a resilient German defence that maintained discipline despite an onslaught by the India attack. This included marshalling Devi Sharmila away from the danger area and preventing the ever-threatening Navneet Kaur from creating chances.
Germany were awarded a penalty corner in the dying seconds of the game but were unable to find a way past Savita.
The shoot out was a reverse image of the day before. This time it was India who looked the more confident and they quickly took an unassailable 3-0 lead through the excellence of Savita and the calmness of the scorers: Tete Salima, Kumari Sangita and Sonika.
Speaking after the game, Player of the Match, Navneet Kaur (IND), said: ‘I am very happy, we did very well and worked hard over both matches.’
Germany’s captain Lisa Nolte said: ‘The feeling in this stadium is awesome but we were unlucky to lose the game today. I am proud of my team. We did a great job but we were unlucky not to win today.’
The result means India move to second position in the league table behind Argentina and ahead of Netherlands. Germany remain in sixth position just one point behind Spain.