Indian hockey

Coach Marijne to focus on defence as Rani & Co prepare for five-match series against Spain

India have picked a full-strength squad as they look to build momentum ahead of the Hockey World Cup in London in July.

Indian women’s hockey team will need to focus on defence when it locks horns with hosts Spain in the opening game of the five-match series on Tuesday, said chief coach Sjoerd Marijne.

The Indian team had finished with a silver medal at the fifth Asian Champions Trophy after losing the final to hosts South Korea 0-1.

India’s attackers were in fine form at the tournament as Navneet Kaur and Vandana Katariya finished as the top scorers with three goals apiece.

“We played very fluent hockey in South Korea and the forwards did a great job. However, these five matches against the Spanish team will help us in organising ourselves better when we don’t have possession of the ball,” he said.

“We will look at our defensive structure, and make sure that we don’t concede easy goals against the opposition. If we can manage to defend well, then it will increase our chances of winning the match.”

The world No 10 side will be led by captain Rani Rampal, who has returned to the team after having been rested for the Asian Champions Trophy held in South Korea.

The visitors have picked a full-strength squad as they look to build momentum ahead of the Hockey World Cup in London to be held from July 21 to August 5.

The coach believes India will face a tough test from the home team, who are currently ranked 11th in the world.

“Our opponents are playing at home and are very well equipped in all parts of the pitch. They have been performing well recently and have made improvements in their game,” said Marijne.

“It will be a tough test for our team but I am sure that the girls will give their everything to achieve the goal of winning.”

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