India confident of taking Canada in their stride

India confident of taking Canada in their stride

India confident of taking Canada in their stride

With eyes firmly set on a podium finish, Indian women’s hockey team would look to make a positive start against a lowly Canada in its opening pool match of the Commonwealth Games here on Thursday.

Going by their present form, the Indian eves have a fair chance of progressing to the semifinals of the quadrennial event as apart from Canada they are placed alongside 2010 Delhi Games silver-medallist New Zealand, Trinidad and Tobago and South Africa in Pool A.

Apart from New Zealand, who are ranked fourth in the world, South Africa (11th) is the other higher placed team in India’s (13th) pool, but the gap between the Indians and the South Africans is minimal.

A winning start against Canada will act as a confidence booster for India as they take on New Zealand in their next match on July 27, followed by games against Trinidad and Tobago (July 28) and South Africa (July 30). 

Against the 22nd-ranked Canada, the Indians will definitely start as overwhelming favourites as in their last clash in 2012, it was the latter who came out victorious with 4-0 margin. Going by past records, the Indian girls enjoy a clear edge over Canada, having won both their duels in the history of CWG Games -- in 2002 and 2010.

Coming into the Glasgow Games, the Indian eves could not have asked for a better preparation as they routed Malaysia 6-0 in an away ‘Test’ series recently to gain confidence.

With a well-balanced unit at his disposal, Indian women team’s chief coach Neil Hawgood is confident that his young team will deliver their best result in the Games. He, however, warned his wards against complacency against a young Canadian outfit who are desperate to prove a point at the world stage.

“While the team is young but the kind of play they showed in the recent Malaysian Tour gives me reasons to be proud of them and confidence that we will deliver our best performance here,” Hawgood said. 

“I am confident that the girls will give a tough time to Canada tomorrow, but I am still keeping my fingers crossed. Though India has been in the best of forms in the recent past, we cannot forget that Canada with its young team is hungry to prove a point too. It will be their captain and forward Kate Gillis who we consider will be their key player tomorrow,” Hawgood said.

“Our aim is to make a winning start in the event and then maintain that momentum further,” he added.