Bhubaneswar, March 14: A delightful weekend with ups and downs saw India and Germany women's team share the honours in their FIH Pro League 2021/22 two-legged tie in Bhubaneswar.
While Germany won the first match 2-1 in the shootout, the home side bounced back with a remarkable 3-0 shootout win in the second leg as both the games ended in a 1-1 draw in regulation time.
Reflecting on the performance, Indian Women's Chief Coach Janneke Schopman said that the team's focus is to improve and do better in every game.
"Our focus is to improve and do better in every game, which I think we are doing it. In Saturday's game, we didn't start well, but in the next game, we started well. However, in the second game, we got a little bit on the backfoot after losing the video referral and then the PC that went in because a player got sent out. I just reminded the players at halftime that we are actually in the game and you just have to keep working hard and keep to our game plan and win the balls. I think we created enough opportunities. The only thing to say is that we should win in regulation time and not in shootouts," said Janneke after India's win in the second match.
Following their 1-2 shootout loss in the first game, India were successful in converting their first three attempts in a shootout in the second leg. Salima Tete, Sangita Kumari, and Sonika were the goalscorers for India, while Captain and goalkeeper Savita stood tall to deny Germany's all three attempts in what was a dramatic shootout.
Speaking about the shootouts and what all improvements the team made in the second leg, Savita said, "Shootout is a situation of pressure. After so many years, it was our first shootout on Saturday, so our players and I made a few mistakes. But, we worked on those errors and thought that we just have to implement what we do in the training if the match heads to the shootouts. So, we worked on our mistakes from the Saturday game and implemented the learnings in Sunday's game. We have very skilful players in our team and they all were able to score easily."
Two players- Akshata Abaso Dhekale in the match on Saturday and Bichu Devi Kharibam in the match on Sunday made their debuts in the double-header against Germany.
Speaking about performances of debutants, the India coach said, "We have a lot of young players. Akshata has really shown a lot of progress in the training sessions. She is a smart player, she defends well, she is calm. If she keeps growing, she has a great future. Bichu Devi, the goalkeeper also made her debut today, she is a very good goalkeeper. Deepika and Sangita too have played a little bit and they start to have more confidence. They got more on the ball using more of their skills. That's what I want, I want them just to play and not be worried about any mistake they make. I am really happy with the performances, but there's a lot to learn for them."
With 12 points from six games, the Indian Women's Team currently sits at the second spot in the FIH Pro League 2021/22 standings. They will next play a double-header against England in FIH Hockey Pro League 2021/22 at the Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar at 17:00 hrs IST on April 2nd (Saturday) and 3rd (Sunday).
Source: HI Release