Wondering about the unrealistic expectations of the Indian women’s hockey team, head coach Sjoerde Marine said on Thursday that the realistic goal for them is to reach the quarterfinals of the Tokyo Olympics and anything less than that would be a big disappointment.
The team will compete in its second consecutive Olympics in Tokyo.
India’s best finish at the Summer Games was in fourth place at the 1980 Moscow Games, and Marine believes the current team has the potential to handle it if the players play to the best of their ability.
“Expectations in India are very high. If you are realistic, only two countries are ranked lower than us and that is Japan and South Africa. So, I don’t know where those expectations are based,” Marine told a virtual media conference.
“I think it’s probably because we’ve done well in the past four years, but we still have to be realistic. We’re focusing on reaching the quarter-finals and that’s realistic and from there anything can happen.”
The Dutch coach said that if they fail to reach the quarterfinals, it will be a great disappointment for the players who have made many sacrifices to realize their dreams in these difficult times.
“… but for me the most important are our performances and I know it’s easier. I just want to see this team reach its potential and my job is to help the team reach its potential.
“If we play every game in billiards to our potential and fail to reach the fourth, I’m still happy. But I think the game of potential will help us reach the quarterfinals and even more,” he said.
“… if I’m disappointed, I’ll be disappointed with the girls, because every day I know how much they worked. They miss their families, they’re always far away.
I know how much effort they put into this process, “he added.
The Indians are in the club along with Germany, Britain, Ireland, the Netherlands and South Africa in Group A, while Group B consists of Argentina, Australia, China, hosts Japan, New Zealand and Spain.
Of the 12 teams, only two countries – Japan (13) and South Africa (16) are below India (10) in the world rankings. Four teams from each group will advance to the quarterfinals.
But India’s head coach Marine is the least worried about the standings, insisting that if Indian women can use their skills, nothing is impossible in the upcoming games.
“Ranking matters, but for us it’s a match-by-match, not a ranking. And of course we know that the Netherlands, Germany, the UK and Ireland are ranked higher, but we don’t agree with that message.
“We will just show what we are capable of playing against the best and this is a very big challenge. This is how we will approach every game, and the other teams have to read us, the pressure is on them,” he said.
“… our strength is, of course, Indian skills. I believe that you really have to respect the culture of a country. And we will never be the Netherlands, we will never be Australia, but it is not necessary, we have learned from these countries. but we have our own skills.We have fast hands and speed and this is something we have added in the last few years.
“We start against the best like Germany and Great Britain. So if we get to the quarterfinals, I’m happy to play every country, Argentina, Australia, New Zealand, China, whatever in the quarterfinals. We have good weapons, but the challenge is execution. at the right time. We’re just going to show that we’re better than the previous Olympics. “
Marijne said he was pleased with the 16-member team he chose for the Olympics, which is a mix of youth and experience.
Asked about the reason behind naming two deputy captains in Deep Grace, Ekka and Savita, who will help captain Rani Rampal, the coach said: “I don’t think it’s just Rani and Savita. They have a big role in shaping this team. and these two girls did it really well. And besides them, we’re trying to make the leadership group bigger and bigger. “
“We have worked a lot on the leadership group with Rani and Savita, but this leadership group is much broader and all the players are different. The bigger this leadership group, the more responsibility they take on.”
The Indian women’s team will open its Olympic campaign against the Netherlands on July 24.