Hockey Pro League: India women to focus on defence for Germany matches

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Having made some mistakes that resulted in their defeat to Spain in the previous match, the Indian women will be concentrating on defence when they take on Germany in FIH Hockey Pro League matches here on Saturday.

India had defeated Spain 2-1 in the first match but then lost to them 3-4 in their second match, the Spaniards capitalising on the defensive errors by the Indian defenders, who allowed their rivals extra space in the final third.

On Thursday, India vice-captain and senior defender Deep Grace Ekka said they have worked on the defence in the break between the two matches. Grace said they are confident that they will not make the same mistakes against Germany.

“Yes, we made a few mistakes in the second game against Spain but we have worked on those points before this match. I am confident my team will do its best against Germany,” said Grace.

Skipper Savita too said they have worked on their penalty corner defence in recent times.

“We made a few mistakes in the second game against Spain. In the break between these two games, we have worked on those errors. We know Germany have a very strong defence, so we have planned on how we can create attacking opportunities. We worked on the areas we need to improve upon. Our strength has always been attacking hockey — so we worked a lot on taking penalty corners and defending penalty corners,” Savita said at the pre-match virtual press conference.

Grace further added that fitness levels can be an important key for India in the upcoming matches. She said head coach Janneke Schopman being a defender herself during her playing days, she gives special attention to them.

“Fitness will be an important key against Germany. We have improved our fitness levels a lot in the past few years. Now, we feel we can face any team that comes in front of us and win matches. Hopefully, we will deliver a strong performance against Germany as well,” Grace said.

Skipper Savita said she is enjoying the responsibility in the absence of regular captain Rani Rampal. She said her approach towards captaincy is different as instead of waiting for the players to come to her with the problems she likes to be proactive and inquire with them whether they are facing any issues.

“I am enjoying this opportunity but am not taking any pressure from this responsibility,” said the Savita.

The matches against Germany will be added responsibility for Savita as she is the team’s senior goalkeeper among the three in the squad — Etimarpu Rajani and Kharibam Bichu Devi are the others — and will have to shoulder the most responsibility.

She said she is aware of her responsibilities and said the goalkeepers and share good camaraderie and always help each other during practice. “We have a couple of sessions every week and we share a good camaraderie, we help each other by telling whether something is not going right or what errors we are making,” said Savita. She said she will leave it to coach Schopman to answer whether the other goalkeepers will also get a chance to play in the upcoming games.

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