Women’s hockey captain Ritu hopeful of winning start

Antwerp (Belgium), June 17 (IANS) Indian women’s hockey team captain Ritu Rani said on Wednesday the side is optimistic of getting off to a positive start in the Hockey World League (HWL) Semi-Final that begins here on Saturday.

HWL Semi-final, an Olympic qualifying tournament, offers Olympic berths for the top three performers. The competition will feature 10 teams divided in two pools. India are placed in Pool B with Belgium, world No.23 Poland, world No.2 Australia and world No.4 New Zealand. World No.1 the Netherlands, world No.9 South Korea, world No.16 Italy, world No.10 Japan and world No.19 Azerbaijan are in Pool A.

World No.13 India will play their first match against hosts and world No.12 Belgioum on June 20 before taking on others.

“There are higher-ranked teams in the tournament but we will focus on each match separately by keeping aside the FIH World rankings,” Ritu said in a release.

“Our attention would be implementing the strategies on the field and play according to our plans. We are expecting a positive result from our opening match and we are ready for the challenge.”

The centre-half is aware of the importance of the tournament and said her side is mindful of not repeating the mistakes.

“It is very important for our team. After the 2014 Incheon Asian Games, we have been preparing for this tournament and we have tried out various new strategies as well as team combinations in the Hawke’s Bay Cup and our preparatory camps and practice matches,” the 23-year-old Ritu said.

“In the match against Japan, we have learnt new aspects of our team combinations and we are working on our mistakes. Our team is improving step by step and rectifying our issues with a planned manner.”

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