After the campaign-saving draw against the mighty USA, Indian eves will fancy their chances of making it to the quarter-finals of the ongoing Women’s Hockey World Cup 2018 when they take on lower-ranked Italy in the cross-over match on Tuesday.
India ended third in Group B after their 1-1 draw against USA. The Indian team displayed great character and a solid defensive structure throughout the match to earn the draw as captain Rani (31’) cancelled out Margaux Paolino’s 11th-minute goal.
India will start as overwhelming favourites against 17th ranked Italy in the crucial knock-out match, where a win will pit them against Ireland in the quarterfinals on Thursday.
While India, ranked 10th, had to fight their way into the knock-out round from Pool B after registering two draws against England and USA and a loss to Ireland, Italy easily scrapped past China (3-0) and Korea (1-0) before slumping to a heavy 1-12 loss to Netherlands in their last match to finish second in Pool A.
However, going into today’s match the momentum surely would be on India’s side and it would also be difficult for Italy to bounce back from the morale-shattering loss against the Dutch.
Rani knows what it takes to win such crucial matches and said they need to go full throttle. “We need to just focus on ourselves, build on our strength and ensure we use our positive points in the match against Italy. There is no doubt we need to go all-out in this crucial crossover match if we want to see ourselves in the quarter-final,” said Rani.
She also warned her side against complacency, saying the Italians are a serious contender despite their 1-12 loss against the Netherlands. “Italy is a good team and they have enjoyed good wins in this tournament too. But we need to go into the match with the self-belief that we can beat them,” Rani said.
The Indians would also draw inspiration from their shoot-out victory against the Italians at the 2015 Hockey World League Semi-final.
“Italy is a good team and they have enjoyed good wins in this tournament too. But we need to go into the match with the self-belief that we can beat them,” Rani said.
(With PTI Inputs)