Indian skipper Rani Rampal feels the Spain tour will provide a good platform for youngsters to make the cut for the Hockey Women’s World Cup squad and give the team a last chance to implement new changes in its game.
A 20-member Indian team left for the Spain tour on Saturday from the Indira Gandhi International Airport in New Delhi. The team led by Rani will play five matches against the home team Spain starting June 12 in Madrid as part of their preparations for the World Cup in London next month.
“The youngsters did really well in the Asian Champions Trophy and in Spain matches if they can have a consistent performance then they stand a good chance to draw the national selectors attention ahead of the much-important Women’s World Cup London 2018 next month,” said Rani.
With two major tournaments including the World Cup in July and the Asian Games in August, Rani said, the Spain Tour will be their last chance to implement new changes in their game. “We will be playing the World Cup after a gap of eight years. It will be a big stage for everyone in the team and it will be a first-time experience for many,” Rani said.
“We obviously won’t be going there as the underdog team especially after a good show in the CWG. But the way we play in London will certainly have an impact on our performance at the Asian Games. Good wins with an improved goal scoring rate in London will provide the right build up for the Asian Games and the Spain Tour will be our last best chance to experiment too,” she added.
Rani, who is back in the squad after being rested for the recently-held 5th Women’s Asian Champions Trophy in Korea, insisted that travelling with a 20-member squad will also ensure that the players are fresh for the tournament next month where they will begin their campaign against hosts and Olympic Champions England.
“It is very important to stay fresh ahead of the Vitality Hockey Women’s World Cup London 2018. With a 20-member squad, Chief Coach will have the option of rotating the players often,” she said. “This tour in Spain will help us work on the areas that we lacked during the Asian Champions Trophy. I personally felt that we played an attacking game, and kept the momentum up throughout the event but in the final we missed a lot of scoring opportunities and could not defend well enough against Korea’s high ball/ scoops,” she added.