Indian hockey eves look to begin mission CWG with win over Wales

Gold Coast [Australia]: The Indian women’s hockey team will aim to end their 12-year medal-drought at the Commonwealth Games when they begin their campaign in Gold Coast against Wales on April 5.

The women’s outfit had last won the Commonwealth Games Gold in 2002 followed by a silver medal in 2006.

Packed with confidence and a refreshing winning attitude, Rani-led Indian women’s squad is ready to recreate history.

“We are here to finish on the podium and nothing less,” expressed Rani who led the team to Asia Cup victory in November last year.

But to reach the podium, the team need to get past initial hurdle in Pool A which consists of Wales, Malaysia, England and South Africa.

“It is a challenging Pool but I believe we can surmount to the next stage,” asserted Chief Coach Harendra Singh on the eve of their first match.

“I am happy with the way they played in the practice matches where we beat Queensland 5-0 and lost 1-3 to Canada. Though against Canada we could have started the first quarter better, I am sure the girls will apply everything we have learnt in the last two camps in match situation,” Harendra stated.

Though India have excelled in the past against Wales, Rani said that the team would not rely on past results.

“Every tournament is like a new chapter, any team can come up as winners and we cannot take an opponent lightly going by previous results,” she said.

Their second match on April 6 is against a lower-ranked Malaysia, who are world number 22. But it is their third match against Olympic champions England on April 8 that will put this team to test.

England are undoubtedly strong contenders for the gold medal and to do well against them will be a big motivation for the team.

“We have worked in the past two months at the National Camp with a sole purpose of doing well against European and Oceanic Teams. Our focus on improving strength and agility was mainly to stay up to speed when we play against a quality team like England and we are looking forward to that match specifically to see where we stand,” Rani said.

The team’s final pool match will be against South Africa on April 10. Only top two teams from each Pool will make it to the semi-final and India must go all-out in their match against South Africa if they wish to see themselves in the knockout stage.

The last time these two teams met was in World League Semi Final in Johannesburg last year where they drew 0-0.

“We are focused on our team goals and don’t want to think about previous matches. We have a fresh outlook, we want to play to our strength and not focus on what the other team’s strategies are. We have had good training sessions here over the past week, the mood is upbeat among the team and we are ready for the challenge,” Rani signed off.(ANI)