India eves face Italy in 5-8 position match

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Antwerp, July 1 (IANS) Following their ouster from the quarterfinals, the Indian women’s team will be taking on World No.16 Italy in a 5-8 position classification playoff in the Hockey World League (HWL) Semi-Final here on Thursday.

India were thrashed 0-7 by reigning Olympic champions Netherlands on Tuesday, who progressed to the semi-finals where they will take on Australia. With the defeat, India also lost their last chance of qualifying for the 2016 Rio Olympics. Only a top-3 finish in the 10-team tournament would have secured an Olympic berth.

Now that they are out of the race, the Asian team will look to win and qualify for the 5-6 position playoff.

India met Italy last year during a Test match which they lost by a narrow margin of 0-1.

While World No.13 India is confident of showing no sign of decline, they would be looking at avenging their defeat and will look at putting up a sturdy performance.

“The tournament has been very competitive but there were a lot of positives that came out. From our last clash against Netherlands, we realised that we need to work on our defence chain as well as not give away penalty corners, and maintain ball possession to pounce on opportunities,” India captain Ritu Rani said on Wednesday.

Being aware of tricky performance of the opponents, India aim to put in extra effort and best game strategies to counteract the Italian side.

“The girls fought really well in the last two quarters against Netherlands. This is a classification match and we have to win it to place ourselves better in the tournament. The girls are in good form which will help them tackle the opponents strongly,” India chief coach Mathias Ahrens said.


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