Ranchi, Jan 8 (IANS) Having spent nearly a week in Ranchi, training at the Marang Gomke Jaipal Singh AstroTurf, the Indian Women’s Hockey Team is ready for the challenge at the FIH Hockey Olympic Qualifiers Ranchi 2024 where they will begin their campaign against United States on January 13.
Speaking about all-important outing on home turf, attacking midfielder Navneet said: “Arriving in Ranchi early has helped us gain quite a few sessions on the main pitch and it has also helped us acclimatize to this weather. Since we have also played in this venue before, during the Women’s Asian Champions Trophy, we know the pitch well. We also went and trained in Kunti district which is home to some of our teammates and it was incredible to see the excitement on the children’s faces who had come to cheer us.”
India are grouped in pool B along with New Zealand, Italy and United States. The top two teams from each Pool will qualify for the Semi-Finals and the teams that finish top 3 in the tournament will earn a ticket to Paris 2024.
“We are very optimistic. The teams we are grouped with are not new to us. We have played against them before. Converting the chances we create in the circle will be very crucial to our campaign and getting off to a good start in the tournament will give the team the right confidence,” said Navneet.
The Indian women will be vying for their third consecutive Olympic qualification. In the previous edition at the Tokyo Olympic Games, India came up with a historic performance finishing fourth. “We are upbeat and eager to get on with our campaign. After our Tokyo Olympics performance, the expectations are high and we want to live up to the billing. We are well-prepared for the event and are confident of a good show,” she signed off.
India will take on United States in their opening match on January 13, followed by a match against New Zealand on January 14. After a day’s rest, India will play Italy on January 16 while the Semi-Finals will be held on 18 and the Final on January 19.
The other teams in the fray include World no.5 Germany, former Asian Games Champions Japan, Chile and Czech Republic grouped in pool A.