Indian women hockey team chief coach Janneke Schopman has said that qualifying for the World Cup will be the key objective for her side at the upcoming Asia Cup, scheduled to be held in Muscat, Oman from January 21 to 28.
India will enter Asia Cup as defending champions and the winner of the event will qualify for the World Cup, which will be held in the Netherlands and Spain from July 1 to 17 this year.
The quadrennial competition will also set the stage as the first major competition for the Indian eves in the new year and the Indian coach wants to see where her team is at the moment.
“First of all, our key objective will be to qualify for the World Cup. That is most important because that is where the best teams in the world come together to compete. I am also very keen to see the level where we are at the moment and whether we can execute the style of play that I envision for the team,” Schopman said in a Hockey India release.
“I am not looking to measure my team against our opponents in the competition, but instead against my own expectations of how I want my team to play. I am eager to see how the team will perform in Oman as it will be really challenging,” she added.
Speaking about her team’s preparation for the Asia Cup, the 44-year old Schopman said, “Currently we are working on defining our style of play as the Indian women’s team. That means a lot of movement on and off the ball and people joining in the attack as we want to play fast and attacking hockey. We want to make use of our skills and speed to good effect.”
“At the same time, we want to be a sturdy defensive unit and take pride in competing in our 1v1 duels. I am happy with what I am seeing because the better we defend in training, the more necessary it becomes to attack better, and that really accelerates the progress of the team,” she added.
Being defending champions in the Asia Cup, the Indian team will have added pressure but the coach has very different expectations from the team.
“Having been a player myself, I understand that there are certain situations when you are just expected to win. However, my expectations from the team are quite different. Each player has a job to do on the field and I am more concerned with how the players execute their own jobs and responsibilities out on the field,” Schopman said.
“I am more concerned with the performance than the results, and if we are able to keep performing how we want then I am sure that the results will follow,” she concluded.