Antwerp (Belgium): Their eyes firmly set on a ticket to next year’s Rio Olympics, Indian women’s hockey team will lock horns with hosts Belgium in their inaugural match of the FIH World League Semi-Finals, here Saturday. Going by world rankings, there is hardly anything to differentiate between India (13th) and Belgium (12th) and the side which manages to overcome the pressure will come out on top tomorrow in the Pool B match.

“We are aiming for a berth in the 2016 Olympic Games. The players have improved their skills as well as strategies according to the competition level here. It will be a test for the entire team tomorrow as it will give us a real time analysis of where do we stand and how immediately to plan for the next clashes,” he said. “The team is confident and are aware that they have to stick to the strategy and keep it simple. The idea will be to not allow pressure to seep in.” India captain Ritu Rani said a win will boost the confidence of the team.

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Get the crucial penalty corners and convert them: Paul van Ass

New Delhi: Indian hockey team might have defeated France in the first practice match but chief coach Paul van Ass feels tomorrow’s clash in the Hockey World League Semi-Final will be a real test for the side and they need to not only get the penalty corners but also convert them. “The boys look in good form as they have showcased great play during the practice matches. But to Saturday will be the real test that they have to pass,” van Ass said ahead of their opening match. “Our practice match against Great Britain helped the team to work on the initial pressure that we had planned.

 “With France they have to be careful as they are a strong team and will not give in easily. The key tomorrow will be to get the crucial penalty corners in our name and convert them.”

The India men’s hockey team will kick off their quest for the FINTRO Hockey World League Semi-Final in Belgium with a clash against France on the opening day Saturday. Ranked ninth in the world, Sardar Singh’s side are in the same pool with Australia, Poland, France and arch-rivals Pakistan. The Indian team had a good campaign against France by winning the match through a brilliant penalty corner conversion by Rupinder Pal Singh. India has yet another advantage in the head-to-head meeting with France as they notched up a 6-2 win over them when they previously locked horns in the 2013 Rabobank Hockey World league Semi Finals in the Netherlands.


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