London, July 25 (IANS) After a valiant start to their women’s hockey World Cup campaign, Rani Rampal-led India will take on Ireland in a must-win second Pool B match here on Thursday.
India had enjoyed an excellent start to their campaign, holding World No.2 England to a 1-1 draw on Saturday.
The Indians could have stunned the Olympic Champions as they had taken the lead in the second quarter. They maintained the lead for most of the second half before the hosts scored a late equaliser.
Though India settled for a draw, skipper Rani is happy with her team’s performance as they held their own in front of a packed stadium cheering for the home team.
“I think it was a great match, a good start for us. There are so many positives that we can draw from that match which will help us in the upcoming matches in the tournament. I don’t think we are surprised with our performance because we have done well against England in the past and this time we went for a win,” Rani said.
Rani further added that the team watched the videos from their opening match and are better-prepared for the next challenge against Ireland.
“The entire team including support staff sat down for a meeting after the match to discuss our performance. We also discussed the goal we conceded and how we could have averted it. Our team feels we can do better than what we played against England and the aim is to improve match by match,” the striker added.
The Indians — who are placed 10th in the world rankings — will need to produce a similar performance against Ireland as a defeat or a draw will complicate things for them. In such a scenario, the Indians will have to beat the US by a healthy margin and hope for a favourable result from the clash between England and Ireland.
World No.16 Ireland, on the other hand, will be coming into their second match after a 3-1 win against a much higher-ranked US who are placed No.7 in the World rankings.
Ireland are currently leading Pool B and will want to carry on that momentum into the game against India.
“Yes, we have watched videos from Ireland’s match against USA and credit goes to them for a good start and good defending to hold their lead till the end,” Rani said.
“In the three days rest that we have had, we played a few practice matches among ourselves to try out different methods in goal scoring and keep up the momentum. We need to make a good start against Ireland and keep up the pressure on them. We are confident and ready for the next challenge,” she added.