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With little more change, we can definitely beat top teams: Rani

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Buenos Aires, Feb 2 (IANS) Indian women’s hockey team captain Rani believes the Argentina tour helped the side know the level at which they are, adding that they can beat top teams by bringing a “little more change” to their game.

The exposure tour of Argentina, as part of their preparations for the Olympic Games, saw the Indian core group register 2-2, 1-1 against the Argentina junior team and lost 1-2, 2-3 to Argentina ‘B’ team before a 2-3, 0-2 loss to the World No.2 side. In the last scheduled match on Sunday, the Indian team led by Rani held Argentina to a 1-1 draw.

“In 2017 when we played against Argentina at the World League semi final, we stood no chance of coming close to them. We couldn’t go into their circle; we couldn’t create opportunities or penalty corners,” said Rani

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“I remember, before going into matches against top teams like Argentina, we would tell each other that we should just try and keep the score low but now we go into these matches wanting to win. There’s a big difference now and with a little more change to our game, we can definitely beat top teams. The whole experience of the tour was fantastic, and we know the level we are at despite a year-long break in competitions due to Covid-19,” she added.

The Indian eves will return to New Delhi on Wednesday after playing their first competitive tour since February 2020.

Chief coach Sjoerd Marijne also praised the team for their performance which according to him has helped them gain a lot of confidence.

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“In all three matches against the senior women, it was very closely contested, and the matches could have gone either way. Even the match where we lost 0-2, they (Argentina) were very effective, but our quality of play was very high in that game,” said chief coach.

“Overall, this tour has helped us gain that confidence of playing against a top side like Argentina. We had the chance to experience what it takes to beat a team like Argentina and the areas we need to focus on to succeed against a quality side. This is a positive step in our preparations for the Olympic Games,” he added.

After returning to India, the core group will have a two-week break before regrouping at the Sports Authority of India (SAI), Bengaluru campus for the national coaching camp.

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Marijne feels the Argentina tour will be an ideal benchmark to improve in the days leading up to the Olympic Games.

“We are very grateful to Hockey India and SAI for organising this tour under such circumstances. Once we return to Bengaluru, we will evaluate these matches again and use this as a benchmark to make further progress in our performance. This tour has surely helped a lot,” Marijne said.

–IANS

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