Hockey Olympic Qualifiers: Germany women’s team arrives, targets spot for Paris Olympics
Ranchi: The 2004 Olympic gold medalists Germany team arrived in Ranchi for the women’s FIH Hockey Olympic Qualifiers, hoping to secure a spot for the 2024 Paris Olympics. The World No.5 team, led by captain Nike Lorenz, is placed in Pool A and will open its campaign against Chile in its first game of the tournament on January 13.
Germany will take on Japan on January 14 and the Czech Republic on January 16 in their final two pool games.
The other teams in the fray include hosts India, New Zealand, Italy, and the United States in Pool B. The top three teams from the tournament will qualify for the Paris Olympic Games 2024.
Speaking of the remarkable welcome at the airport in Ranchi, Germany Captain Nike Lorenz said, “We are quite excited to be here. We have a good squad of young and senior players. So, we are looking forward to the competition.”
Apart from winning the gold medal in 2004, Germany have also won the Olympic silver medal twice in 1994 and 1992, and have also claimed the bronze medal in 2016.
Germany also boasts of being the World Champions twice in 1976 and 1981. With a rich history of hockey, the formidable European team is being viewed as one of the favourites in the tournament for a podium finish and earning an Olympic berth.
On being asked about the pressure of being one of the top contenders, Lorenz said, “I think the only pressure we feel is the pressure we put on ourselves. We try to play our best hockey and be the best team in a tournament. Obviously, with the teams in the tournament, it’s a little different situation than we are used to. Different pressure, so we will handle it.”
This is Germany’s first visit to India since the 2021/22 FIH Women’s Hockey Pro League matches in Bhubaneswar. Lorenz insisted that previous experiences of playing in India will help the team get used to the environment quickly and be beneficial for the players to adjust to the conditions.
“We have some members of the staff who have travelled to India as well before as well as some players. We try to gather all the experience that we have because, for most of us, it is the first time. We are really excited,” Lorenz added.
Meanwhile, Germany boasts of a squad packed with experienced campaigners and several youths as well. Giving an assessment of the squad, Germany head coach Valentin Altenburg said, “I cannot tell you about our tactics, but I can tell you we are very well prepared for what is to come. We are also eager to face the new teams that we have not played before.”
“It’s a new adventure for us. Italy have a good shape, we played them before and we look forward to playing the Czech Republic as well. United States are also very well prepared to perform, so it will be tough games for everyone,” he said.