Indian eves eye consistent show

It was not the kind of start the Indian women would have hoped for in the Olympic hockey Qualifiers.

The first two matches have seen a sharp swing in their performances, and the home side understands the need to be consistent for a ticket to London.  The Indian girls hit a disappointing note during their 1-1 draw with Ukraine, but were swift to turn things around with a resounding 4-1 victory over Canada on Sunday. The team certainly looked cohesive in the second match but there is still a lot of room for improvement.

The Indians have struggled to breach the crowded defence of European  teams, be it Azerbaijan during the home series or Ukraine in the opener. Poland are up next and India will have to produce something special against yet another proponent of European hockey.

The Polish side gave a stiff competition to South Africa, the top ranked team in the pool, before going down 1-2 but India, even though 15 rungs above their 28th-ranked opponents, cannot afford to drop their guard.

Coach CR Kumar admitted that India's performance against European countries has been a matter of concern. “We have not been able to penetrate the defence. Maybe we will try to outnumber them in the midfield. We will make a few tactical changes and have a plan in place,” Kumar said.

“It entirely depends on the team, how they perform on the field, and not the opponents.”
The competition has so far seen two draws -- Italy and Canada were locked 2-2 -- and that has rendered the tournament open.

India's strongest rivals, the Proteas, with two straight wins, are the only team to have six points and are perched at the top of the table. They are followed by Italy and India at four points each.

Poland, on the other hand, are at the bottom of the table and are yet to open their account following their 1-4 loss to Italy. Kumar , however, said they are not underestimating any team. “We need to cut down on our forced and unforced errors and that will be our focus in the coming matches,” he said.

 Anuradha Devi, who was among the goalscorers against Canada, had a muscle tear during the match and has been ruled out for three days.  Therefore, she will miss at least the next two matches, forcing the other forwards to take added responsibility.

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