Hockey News: Argentina coach Sjoerd Marijne says Players experienced in Argentina what it takes to succeed against a quality side

Hockey News: Extremely pleased with the fight shown by Indian women hockey team against formidable Argentina, coach Sjoerd Marijne says the the recently-concluded “exposure trip” has helped the players understand what it takes to beat a top team.

The Indian core group played out two draws (2-2, 1-1) against the Argentina Junior team and lost two matches (1-2, 2-3) to Argentina ‘B’ team before losing two matches (2-3, 0-2) and eking out a 1-1 draw against the world number two side.

The team will return home on Wednesday after playing their first competitive tour since the coronavirus-induced break.

“In all three matches against the senior women, it was very closely contested, and the matches could have gone either way. Even the match where we lost 0-2, they (Argentina) were very effective, but our quality of play was very high in that game,” Marijne said in a release issued by Hockey India.

“Overall, this tour has helped us gain that confidence of playing against a top side like Argentina. We had the chance to experience what it takes to beat a team like Argentina and the areas we need to focus on to succeed against a quality side. This is a positive step in our preparations for the Olympic Games.”

After returning to India, the core group will have a two-week break before regrouping at the Sports Authority of India (SAI), Bengaluru campus for the National Coaching Camp.

“Once we return to Bengaluru, we will evaluate these matches again and use this as a benchmark to make further progress in our performance. This tour has surely helped a lot,” Marijne said.

Speaking about the players experience against Argentina, skipper Rani said, “In 2017 when we played against Argentina at the World League Semi Final, we stood no chance of coming close to them. We couldn’t go into their circle. We couldn’t create opportunities or PCs.

“I remember, before going into matches against top teams like Argentina, we would tell each other that we should just try and keep the score low but now we go into these matches wanting to win.

“There’s a big difference now and with a little more change to our game, we can definitely beat top teams. The whole experience of the tour was fantastic, and we know the level we are at despite a year-long break in competitions due to covid-19.”

Marijne said one of the key aspects of the tour was to provide ample exposure to some of the young players.

“This tour was also about giving players who don’t have much international experience the chance to show their level. This is a long-term process, and it is important for the future of the team,” Marijne said.