Impressive performance against higher-ranked New Zealand and Great Britain in upcoming matches will be good preparation in an Olympic year, Indian women’s hockey team captain Rani said on Wednesday.

Rani spoke just before the team’s departure for Auckland for its first tour of the season. The team will take on New Zealand in four matches before playing against Great Britain during a 10-day tour that ends on February 5.

“We look forward to playing against higher ranked teams like New Zealand (world No 6) and Great Britain (world No 5). We want to do well as it will give us a good boost in our Olympic preparation. A good start against tough teams will matter a lot,” stated Rani.

India will play New Zealand Development squad on January 25, followed by two matches against New Zealand’s national team on January 27 and 29. They will then play Great Britain on February 4 followed by another match against hosts New Zealand.

“While we have done well in the past against Great Britain, New Zealand is one team we look forward to do well against. They play tough, attacking hockey and they will be quite challenging,” she added.

Rani said analytical coach Janneke Schopman’s experience will help the team immensely.

“I think it’s fantastic that she has joined our camp. We are excited to work with her and she knows our team well,” Rani signed off.