Play without fear & convert PCs, women hockey Olympians tell Rani & Co

They had set the ball rolling for India when women’s hockey made its Olympics debut at Moscow in 1980 and two members of that team feel that India had a good chance against Australia if they tighten up their game and capitalise on their chances.

Eliza Nelson and Selma D’Silva, both former India captains who were also part of the team that won the Asian Games gold in 1982 at New Delhi, feel Rani Rampal and her team has a good chance of putting it across Australia if they take care of a few key areas of their game.

“They should play one-touch hockey and not try to dribble too much. Australia is a very strong team and the Indians have made it to the quarterfinals for the first time, so they don’t have anything to lose,” Eliza Nelson told IANS on Sunday.

She said the Indians will have to play compact hockey, should not make many mistakes and capitalise on the chances that come their way.

Selma gave India a 50-50 chance in the quarterfinal against Australia.

“Going by the way they came back after losing the first three matches — they beat Ireland and South Korea in the last two games — I will give them a 50-50 chance in the quarterfinal,” said Selma.

She felt that though Vandana Katariya struck a hat-trick against South Africa, the Indian forwards have to be sharper and come up with coordinated efforts. “The defence also has to be strong, and we have to make the most of the penalty corners. We had 14 against Ireland and could not convert even one. Gurjit Kaur (India’s drag-flicker) has not scored many but maybe tomorrow will be her day,” said Selma, who traces her roots in Goa.

Both Eliza and Selma agreed that the Indian team has nothing to lose as it has achieved its target of reaching the quarterfinals.

“It is a great opportunity for the girls if they utilise it properly,” said Selma.

So, the message from these two stalwarts to Rani Rampal and her team is clear, ‘go for it, give your best’.