Mumbai: These girls have already made history and would aim for more glory as they take on Argentina for a place in the final of the Tokyo Olympics, on Wednesday.
While the girls gear up for the match, the men fell short in their venture surrendering to the spirited hockey display by Belgium going down 2-5 on Tuesday.
Termed as ‘Battle Royale’, with the rejuvenated Indian side after their win over former champions Australia, Argentinians are no pushovers as they are a technically better side than the Rani Rampal-led women in Blue.
India’s former left-winger Nazleen Madarasawalla, who fought the natural disadvantage, by turning it into an advantage, gives all the equal leverage to Indian and Argentina as they face off to it to the final.
The girls are full of confidence after beating Australia, which gives them a huge advantage. But they will have to take their game into the opponent’s citadel and give no room for them to manoeuvre in their own area, said the southpaw, the former Pune resident, who now mentors young pupils in New Zealand.
A teacher with the Hamilton Boys High School, Nazleen cautioned her country girls saying it would be a hard-fought battle as both teams have defeated strong opposition to reach the semifinals, but never underestimate the rivals.
“Though Argentina is placed higher than India, I think if the Indian women stick to the game plan, don't give away penalty corners, and avoid cards, they will be a side to beat. The confidence of the Indian team is high, but the key will be to do the simple things well,” said Nazleen, who has been a delight of teammates and fans during her hay days with the hockey stick.
Hockey has been everything for this Bohri brought up Nazleen, as she has braved social pressure to become an active sportswoman. “Every opportunity must be taken and penalty corner conversion will also play an important part; high work rate will be crucial, as the Argentinians will contest every ball and move. They are a skilful team and will make the most of every opportunity,” Nazleen says.
Adding further she says, “I believe that the resilience the Indian women have shown in this competition will hold them in good stead. If they continue to believe in themselves and work to the plan, their dream and the hopes of the entire nation will become a reality. We need to take the game to the opposition rather than allowing them to dominate play. If Argentina settles and dominates at the start, then it will become dangerous for India.
"We made history by just reaching the semifinals and now we are looking to go beyond this (semifinals)," Rani said.
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