Hockey Olympic Qualifiers: Motivated USA women reach Ranchi, eye strong showing

After missing out on an Olympic berth in Tokyo, a motivated USA team arrived here on Thursday evening for the highly-awaited FIH Hockey Olympic Qualifiers Ranchi 2024, hoping to secure a berth at Paris.

After missing out on an Olympic berth in Tokyo, a motivated USA team arrived here on Thursday evening for the highly-awaited FIH Hockey Olympic Qualifiers Ranchi 2024, hoping to secure a berth at Paris.

The USA team led by co-captains Amanda Golini and Ashley Hoffman will face off against India in their first Pool B match on January 13, which will be the first meeting between the two teams since the 2021/22 FIH Women’s Hockey Pro League.

The World No. 15 will then take on Italy in their second game on January 14 followed by their final pool game against New Zealand on January 16.

Advertisement

Upon arriving in Ranchi, Golini expressed excitement about the team’s return to India and applauded the grand welcome. This is the second time the USA will be participating in an Olympic qualifier in India after losing to the hosts the Tokyo Olympic berth to India in a match-game mini-match in Bhubaneswar.

“The welcome was amazing, the dancing, the pictures, everything was incredible. We enjoyed it a lot. Thank you so much for this, and we are blessed to be here,” she said.

Golini also explained the reasons behind the team’s early arrival in India, describing the same as part of the team’s strategy. “No matter where we go, our staff does a great job of planning so that we get acclimatized to the weather, the conditions. So, it is definitely a part of the strategy to reach a bit early,” she said.

Meanwhile, both Golini and Ashley Hoffman were also part of the USA women’s hockey team that faced off against India in the 2019 FIH Women’s Hockey Olympics Qualifiers.

India were able to qualify for Tokyo on an aggregate score – with a 5-1 win in the first game and a 1-4 loss to the USA in their second match. Despite a remarkable comeback in the second game against India, the USA were unable to book a berth in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

On being asked about learnings from the previous experience of playing FIH Olympic Qualifiers in India, Hoffman said, “Throughout our preparations, we have been leaning on our previous experiences of playing in India, with the environments with the loud crowds, and we have shared the same with the rest of the team. We are confident that this experience will be crucial in guiding us, especially in a packed stadium with Indian fans.”

Moreover, the USA women’s hockey team that faced India in 2019 was coached by Janneke Schopman, the current Indian team’s chief coach.

Speaking on her experiences of playing under Schopman, Hoffman said, “I think coaches evolve as players do, so I am sure to expect new things from her since it’s been a few years since she has coached us. But I am sure we can expect a few things similar that are staple styles of her hockey tactics. I am overall very excited to play against her. This will be an exciting way to meet her again.”

Meanwhile, the current USA women’s hockey team head coach David Passmore assessed the current squad and explained how previous experiences of playing in India will help his team.

“Overall, it’s still quite a young squad in terms of caps, and age, but it’s also a really exciting squad. We have some great young players and thankfully we have a few players who have played in this environment before in Olympic Qualifiers,” he said.

“So, it’s a real mixture and blend. We have gelled really well over the last six months as a group, which is most important. We have a great deal of self-belief. If we play our best, we can beat everyone. We need to take it one game at a time,” he signed off.

(IANS)

This website uses cookies to improve your experience. We'll assume you're ok with this, but you can opt-out if you wish. Accept Read More