Deflated Indian women eye for a good comeback against the Netherlands in the FIH Pro League

Women in Blue’s India’s morale has plummeted after suffering their fourth defeat, and the Indian women are gearing up for another challenging battle in the FIH Pro League against the undefeated Netherlands on February 14, Wednesday. The Indian women’s hockey squad has recently encountered difficulties. After failing to qualify for the Paris Olympics, the team has performed poorly in the current Pro League matches in Bhubaneswar and Rourkela.

The Savita Punia-led side has played five Pro League matches, losing four and winning one. The host team’s campaign began with three consecutive defeats to China (1-2), the Netherlands (1-3), and Australia (0-3) before defeating the USA 3-1. The Indian women then suffered their second defeat against China (1-2) here on Monday. India faces a monumental assignment in today’s encounter against the mighty Netherlands, who currently top the rankings with 27 points from nine matches. The Indians are currently ranked fifth in the nine-team league, with only three points after five games.

We haven’t got the results we wanted but I believe we have what it takes to put on a good show and get a few points on our side. I think we are playing well in patches so if we can be more consistent, we can definitely go on to win more games, India captain Savita said.

So far, the Indian forward line has met with partial success with players such as Sangita Kumari, Vandana Katariya, Deepika, Navneet Kaur, and Salima Tete registering their names on the scoresheet. But it is the penalty-corner conversion, which after letting them down in the Olympic Qualifiers in Ranchi, is dragging them down further in the Pro League. In the five matches, the Indians have earned 21 penalty corners but have failed to find the net even once.

On Wednesday, the likes of Gurjit Kaur, Deepika, and Udita will have to be accurate and innovative with set pieces if India hopes to upset the Dutch. The Indians also need to tighten their penalty-corner defense to avoid conceding soft goals. India chief coach Janneke Schopman wants her players to take their chances.

The Netherlands are a quality side but we are not short on talent or ability. We will be patient while keeping the intensity of our hockey high and try to convert any scoring opportunities we have, Schopman said. India will play two more games in the Odisha leg of the Pro League, against Australia on February 17 and the USA on February 18.