New Delhi: Coach Sjoerd Marijne wants the Indian women’s hockey team to understand the “power of repetition” to train their mind and body ahead of the Olympic qualifiers in November.
The Indian women not only sealed an Olympic qualifier spot by reaching the summit clash in FIH Hockey Series but also won the tournament by beating Japan in the final.
Marijne said he is happy with the overall performance of the side. “As a higher ranked country, if you go to a qualifier, you know you have to win and I am very happy with their performance. I know a few teams were really low ranked and there was not much challenge in the pool matches, so the challenge in the semis and finals was even bigger,” he said.
“You have to keep training and improving, it is the power of repetition and also train mental side. Now they have the experience of wining and playing difficult matches and it gives a big boost to the team.”
India missed a few opportunities initially against Chile in the semifinals but Rani Rampal’s side bounced back from a goal down to outwit them 4-2 to seal their place in the Olympic qualifiers.
“We were not in the rhythm, we also had three days rest but the team did very well. The first half against Chile was not perfect because we had to adjust to the speed of the game but after that we did well,” Marijne said.
“I was happy how we came back but I was not happy with how we started. The level went too low, we can’t allow that because we need to have a basic level where everybody plays.
“They had some nerves in the semifinals. The nerves disappeared in the finals and that is something we have to keep working on, if we can improve that our level will only get higher. So the psychologist we have Priyanka (Prabhakar) and Somya (Awasthi) are important for the team.”
The 45-year-old from The Netherlands also said it will be an advantage if India plays their Olympic qualifiers at home. ”We are ranked 9, so we will have to wait for the continental championships to be over, so yeah we will play at home but still we will have to wait,” he said.
“It is a good thing because these girls didn’t play enough match in India like the men. So it would be a great opportunity and an advantage.”
Asked if he was happy with the penalty corner conversation of the team, he said: “Yeah, there is no worry but we have to maintain that. Gurjit (Kaur) has the quality to do that in the right moment and not many dragflicker can do that the way she did in the semifinals and finals.”
Seven qualifying events will now be held in November to determine the seven teams for the Tokyo Olympics, and the FIH will come up with the draw in September.
Talking about their preparation for the qualifiers, Marijne said: “It will be the same, because in the camps, we have played Korea, Ireland, Spain for preparation. We have practised against these countries and now we will have pre-Olympic qualifier events like Australia will come there. “Good opponents will be there. We will do everything possible to be well prepared.”
Asked if he felt India could have scored more goals, Marijne said: “Ya, of course but you play against Uruguay, Poland and then Fijji, who are really lower ranked.
“So when is it enough, if we score 5 goals or 10 goals. You know if we score 10 goals today will we get medals? No, the medal is after the end of the tournament so we have to save your energy,” he said.
“If you see, we scored four against Chile and three goals in the finals, and it is not about scoring only goals, we defended very well and especially in the finals.”