New Zealand challenge for Indian hockey eves

Antwerp, June 22 (IANS) Following its 0-1 loss to Belgium in the Hockey World League (HWL) Semi-Final, the Indian women’s hockey team faces a tough opponent in New Zealand in a pool B contest here on Tuesday.

World No.13 India put up a disciplined show but Belgium walked away winners riding on their sole goal at the Brasschaat Municipal Park on Saturday. Come Tuesday, centre-half Ritu Rani-captained India will need to further raise their game against world No.4 New Zealand, who hammered world No.23 Poland 12-0 in their first match.

Prior to this, India and New Zealand recently met in the pool phase of the Hawke’s Bay Cup 2015 where India went down to New Zealand 1-4. They also met earlier in the 2014 Commonwealth Games where India lost to New Zealand 0-3.

In the match against Belgium, Indian goalkeeper Savita showed incredible reflexes to restrict the opponent’s scoring and she needs to have another good performance. Indian eves also need to improve the penalty corners conversion rate.

“The first match against the home team Belgium was tough as they had an advantage of playing in front of the home crowd. But we stuck to our structure really well,” skipper Ritu said in a release on Monday.

“New Zealand is a good team and it is an important match for us. Although the result of the previous match was not in our favour, we are not losing hopes and will certainly come back in tomorrow’s match.”

Chief coach Mathias Ahrens said: “I am happy with the way the girls performed in the last match. We lacked in a few areas which were quite visible but we will ensure good possession of the ball and try to put pressure on New Zealand by attacking their defence line.

“We will remain confident and try to convert more chances in our favour tomorrow.”

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