The Indian women’s hockey team put up a spirited show to kickstart their campaign with a thrilling 1-1 draw against England in their first match of the FIH Women’s Hockey World Cup, at the packed Wagener Hockey Stadium, Amsterdam on Sunday.
Reflecting on the performance, chief coach Janneke Schopman said, “I think we started the game really well, creating a penalty corner in the opening minute. England were dangerous at times but we managed to play well on the ball and defended calmly most of the time. We were unlucky in our penalty corner execution and in the end, the two green cards disturbed our rhythm a little.
“Overall, I’m quite happy with our performance but also know we can be better in certain areas.”
Captain Savita Punia, who made some remarkable saves in the opening match said, “We knew it was going to be a high-pressure match, and I am happy that we showed great character on the pitch. I think we could have done better and converted our chances to win the match, nevertheless, we have picked up a valuable point against a very strong team. So, it’s a positive start for us.”
India will now square off against China in their second Pool B match of the tournament in Amstelveen, Amsterdam on Tuesday. The two teams have faced each other three times this year, with India winning all three matches. India registered a 2-0 win in the bronze medal playoff at the Asia Cup and won both the FIH Hockey Pro League Matches (7-1 and 2-1) earlier this year against their Asian counterparts.
Meanwhile, China played out a 2-2 draw against New Zealand in their opening match of the tournament. The team India played earlier in the year will be quite different to the one they will face on Tuesday, under legendary coach Alyson Annan.
Speaking ahead of their match against China, Savita said, “China is a very good team, they are full of surprises and we will have to be on top of our game against them. It will be really important to convert our chances and execute our plans perfectly. We are looking forward to a good challenge, and the focus as always will be to play good hockey.”
Schopman stated that the team will be able to create opportunities if the team sticks to the game plan.
“China is a difficult team to beat, they have a very good PC setup and they also defend well. If we can play our own game we can hopefully create some opportunities,” she added.
India will take on China in their second pool B match on July 5, Tuesday, at 20:00 hrs IST. The match will be live on Star Sports First and streamed on Disney+ Hotstar