Saturday, December 2, 2023

We can’t let our performance drop in hectic year, says India’s Savita

In a calendar-packed year for the sport, which includes the Asia Cup, Pro League, the World Cup and Commonwealth Games, goalkeeper Savita says India must keep up their momentum to keep making inroads to the top echelons of world hockey.

India women will kickstart their year when they defend their title at the Asia Cup in Muscat, Oman which will see the top eight teams of the continent – India, China, Korea, Japan, Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia and Singapore – compete for top honours.

The top four sides at the Jan 21-28 event will qualify for the FIH Women’s World Cup 2022.

Savita will captain India and takes over from the injured Rani. She said: “In 2017, we won the Asia Cup to win direct qualification for the FIH Women’s World Cup in London. I feel that win was one of the stepping stones for us to establish steady growth in our performance in the past four years.

“Definitely starting the season with a good show in Asia Cup will give us the right momentum as we play back-to-back tournaments.”

After the Asia Cup, the Indian women, the world No 9 side, will make their FIH Pro League debut, playing against the Netherlands, Spain, Germany and England in Bhubaneswar.

India’s goalkeeper said: “I feel the Pro League matches will provide us with the best exposure ahead of the World Cup (in July). Last time, we made it to the quarterfinals for the first time in many decades.

“With our recent performance in the Olympics, and the support we garnered, we need to live up to the expectations by doing well in these major competitions to keep the interest alive in women’s hockey.

“Having a good core group in such a hectic year will mean a lot in terms of ensuring our performance doesn’t drop whenever someone needs to fill in for another player.”

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