Veteran halfback Sushila Chanu on Tuesday asserted that India is fully prepared for the Women’s Hockey World Cup in Spain and Netherlands scheduled to begin from 1 July.
India will open their campaign against England on July 3rd in the Pool B match. They will next face off against China on July 5th and New Zealand on July 7th.
The schedule for the upcoming Women’s Hockey World Cup was released by the FIH on Monday The opening match of the 15th edition of the event– will see hosts Spain taking on Canada on 1 July in Terrassa, Spain.
Talking to media at a virtual press conference Sushila Chanu maintained d that the order of the matches does not change how the team will be preparing for the tournament.
"It does not matter against which opponents we start our campaign. We are not afraid of which team we are facing first as our mentality and our mindset is to take each game as it comes and try and win every match," she said.
"We have faced China recently in Muscat, Oman, in the Hockey Asia Cup and in the FIH Hockey Pro League. and so it will be an advantage for us. We will be playing the Pro League matches against England next month. We had last played New Zealand in 2020. So we know about all these teams quite well and we know how we have to prepare for the upcoming challenges," she opined
"Our team has developed a fighting spirit over the past couple of years. This has worked really well for us,".
India competed against Spain at the Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar over the past weekend in a two-legged affair. While India won the first match 2-1, Spain won the second match 4-3.
Forward Navneet Kaur also spoke on how the team has gained confidence in the past couple of years because of constantly facing higher-ranked opponents.
"Around 2-3 years ago, there used to be a concern in the team before facing stronger opponents. But now, there is no fear in our team and we feel we are ready to face every challenge. Even if an opponent scores the first goal, we know we have the capability and skills to get things back in our favour," Navneet said.
India will next play a double-header against Germany in Pro League 2021/22 on 12th and 13th March.
Asked about the preparation for the upcoming games, Navneet said: "We have faced off against Germany last year. So, we will definitely take a look back at videos of those matches to recognise what are our stronger areas, and what areas we have to improve upon when we face them again."
16 teams will be in the race for the World Cup title.
Pool A: Netherlands, Germany, Ireland, Chile
Pool B: England, New Zealand, India, China
Pool C: Argentina, Spain, Korea, Canada
Pool D: Australia, Belgium, Japan, South Africa
Meanwhile, FIH has excluded Russia from the Women’s Junior World cup.
A statement issued by the FIH said that following IOC’s recommendation to avoid the participation of Russian athletes and officials in international competitions - in order to protect the integrity of global sports competitions and for the safety of all participants – the Executive Board (EB) of the International Hockey Federation (FIH) has taken the decision to exclude Russia from the upcoming Women’s Junior World Cup scheduled from 1 to 12 April in Potchefstroom, South Africa.