The Indian women’s hockey team achieved their best-ever world ranking as they climbed up a spot to ninth place in the latest FIH World Rankings published on Tuesday by the International Hockey Federation (FIH).
The improvement in ranking comes as they also report for a brief four-day national camp at the Sports Authority of India (SAI), Bengaluru campus starting Tuesday.
The Indian team produced its best finish in four decades at a World Cup as they made their way to the quarter-finals of the recently concluded campaign in London.
Previously ranked number 10 in the FIH World Rankings, the Indian team displayed some solid performances throughout the tournament in London, conceding only three goals in the five matches that they played, losing out to eventual silver-medallists Ireland 3-1 in the penalty shootout after a goal-less quarter-final at the Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre.
The new ranking means that the Indian eves will go into the upcoming Asian Games as the top-ranked Asian team in the world, but chief coach Sjoerd Marijne believes that this is just a start for the team. “The new ranking comes as added motivation to our team for the upcoming Asian Games, but what is even better to see is that the players are not satisfied. There is more hunger in the squad to improve the ranking further by performing consistently at the highest level. We do have plenty of positives from the World Cup as the girls produced very good hockey, showing their grit and character to get through to the last eight,” stated the Dutchman.
Marijne said that the improvement in ranking was down to the team keeping their defensive structure intact consistently even when they were under pressure, “One must note that we only conceded three goals in the whole tournament in London.
The defence was very solid and that starts with our forward-line as your entire team contributes to a strong defensive structure. We have placed special focus on our structure during matches and now we can see that the girls have come a long way in the past two years. They are now fully aware of their capabilities on the turf and I’m sure the new ranking will surely motivate them to excel at the Asian Games.”
The rise to ninth spot also coincides with the Indian team starting their preparatory camp which will have a total of 25 core group members, including the 18-member Asian Games squad. The team is placed in Pool B along with South Korea, who have swapped places with the Indian team, to be now ranked world number 10.
Thailand, Kazakhstan and hosts Indonesia are also grouped with the top-two teams, and chief coach Marijne knows that there is room for improvement. “We only have a few days in camp to prepare ourselves, but we will be looking to ensure that our passing is 100% accurate in our build-up play, and we must also improve our penalty corner conversion rate and take more shots on goal,” Marijne said.