Target is to gain Oly berth: Rani

Skipper exudes confidence

The recent performances of the women's hockey has raised hopes of a historic Olympic berth and as the 18-member squad prepares for the Hockey World League Semifinal to be held in Antwerp, Belgium, beginning June 20, captain Ritu Rani exuded optimism about their chances.

Rani said the team has worked hard for the Word League Semifinal. "We are confident of putting up a good performance in Belgium. We have worked hard for the tournament. The Olympics is the main target of the team and keeping that as the focus, we would give our best and hopefully book a berth in the Rio Games,” Rani told Deccan Herald.

India women's hockey team has been part of the Olympics only once, that too, in the 1980 Moscow Games when field hockey for women was introduced for the first time and they were given an invitation to participate. To book a berth in the Rio India need to get into the top four at Belgium.

India eves had started their pursuit to the Olympics on a promising note this year. They won the World Hockey League Round-2 at home, beating Poland 3-1 in the final, to earn congratulatory message from Prime Minister Narinder Modi on twitter.

In Hawke’s Bay Cup in New Zealand, even though the team finished seventh among the eight nations, they were able to take a lot of positives out of it.  They gave a good fight to second-ranked Australia to hold them to a 0-0 draw and bounced back from 0-2 deficit to beat higher seed Japan 3-2 to grab the seventh spot.

Rani admitted the outing in New Zealand has enthused the players and that they would be looking to build on that. However, India has got a tough draw with Australia, New Zealand, hosts Belgium and Poland and she conceded the road to secure an Olympic berth would be tough.

"Teams like Australia, New Zealand are on the top of the rankings and we need to be at our best to beat them," she said.

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