Bhubaneswar, March 11: Having made some mistakes that resulted in their loss to Spain in the previous match, the Indian women will be concentrating on defense when they take on Germany in the FIH Hockey Pro League matches here on Saturday.
India had beaten Spain 2-1 in the first match but then lost to them 3-4 in their second match, the Spanish capitalizing on defensive errors by the Indian defenders, who allowed their rivals extra space in the final third.
On Thursday, India’s vice-captain and main defender Deep Grace Ekka said they had worked on defense in the break between the two matches. Grace said that she is confident that she will not make the same mistakes against Germany.
“Yes, we made some mistakes in the second game against Spain, but we have worked on those points before this game. I am confident that my team will do the best they can against Germany,” Grace said.
Skipper Savita also said that they have worked on their penalty corner defense of late.
“We made some mistakes in the second game against Spain. In the break between these two games, we have worked on those mistakes. We know that Germany have a very strong defense, so we have planned how we can create attacking opportunities. We work on the areas that we need to improve. Our strong point has always been attacking hockey, so we work hard to take penalty corners and defend penalty corners,” Savita said at the pre-match virtual press conference.
Grace further added that fitness levels may be a major key for India in the upcoming matches. She said head coach Janneke Schopman, being an advocate herself during her game days, pays special attention to them.
“Fitness will be a big key against Germany. We have improved our fitness levels a lot in recent years. Now, we feel like we can take on any team that comes our way and win matches. Hopefully, we will deliver a strong performance against Germany.” too,” Grace said.
Captain Savita said she is enjoying the responsibility in the absence of regular captain Rani Rampal. She said that her approach to captaincy is different, as instead of waiting for players to come to her with their issues, she likes to be proactive and ask them if they are facing any issues.
“I enjoy this opportunity, but I don’t accept any pressure from this responsibility,” Savita said.
Matches against Germany will be an added responsibility for Savita as she is the team’s main goalkeeper among the three in the squad (Etimarpu Rajani and Kharibam Bichu Devi being the others) and will have to shoulder the most responsibility.
She said she is aware of her responsibilities and said the goalies share a 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 saying if something is wrong or what mistakes we are making,” Savita said. She said she will let Coach Schopman answer whether the other goaltenders will also get a chance to play in upcoming games.