ROTTERDAM: Currently place third in the standings, the Indian women's hockey team will be looking to end its debut campaign in FIH Pro League on a high note when it takes on the United States in its last double-header matches in Rotterdam this week.
India will meet the USA on June 21 and 22 hoping to widen the gap with fourth-placed Belgium, who too have two matches remaining in the league.
The Indian team led by Savita registered a 2-2 (2-1 SO) shootout win and a narrow 2-3 loss in its previous Pro League matches against the current Champions Argentina on weekend. India are currently placed in the third position in the league table with 24 points from 12 matches.
Argentina topped the table with 42 points from 16 matches, the Netherlands are second with 34 points from 14 matches while Belgium are fourth with 22 points from 14 matches.
The matches between India and England (women), initially scheduled on April 2-3 in Bhubaneswar were cancelled. Consequently, it has been agreed between the FIH and the two nations that the six points available for these two matches be awarded to India.
Speaking ahead of the two-legged tie against the USA, Savita said, "For us, the most important thing is that we could execute our plans and put up an improved performance on the weekend against Argentina. However, we could have done better, but I feel these matches are confidence booster for us ahead of the World Cup."
"There is still room for improvement for us and we look forward to plugging the loopholes in the matches against the USA. We've gained good momentum and hopefully, we will finish our debut Pro League campaign with good results," she added.
Meanwhile, vice-captain Depp Grace Ekka stated, "The matches were really tough against Argentina, but we are glad that we stuck to the plans and did really well against a strong team. We are looking forward to the last set of matches of our memorable Pro League campaign. We are confident of getting positive results against the USA."
With the FIH hockey women's World Cup 2022 just around the corner, Savita said that the team is shaping up really well for the marquee event.
"We are glad that we have got a good opportunity of playing in Europe just a few days ahead of the World Cup, so the build-up towards the big event has been really great. The team is shaping up really well for the World Cup," the Indian Captain concluded.
The double-header with the USA will also be the first time that chief coach Janneke Schopman will meet the team that she coached before taking up the India job. India had edged past the Schopman-coached USA in Olympic qualifiers for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games.