Indian women’s team will leave on Saturday for the Hockey World League (HWL) Semi-Final in Johannesburg, starting 8 July. They will be looking to seal their berth in the semi-final of the Hockey World League.

The 18-member Indian team headed by Rani, has been sweating in practice in New Delhi since the past six days before leaving for the World Cup Qualifier.

“We played a couple of matches over the past one week against U-18 Boys. The whole idea of playing these matches was to see how the team copes with handling speed considering the boys play faster hockey. The physical aspect too was put to test,” stated chief coach Sjoerd Marijne prior to their departure from New Delhi.

The team was put through intense training, with focus on improving speed, agility and attaining a greater level of fitness under Scientific Adviser Wayne Lombard. “We would do four sessions a day and it is not easy training so hard at high altitude. The sessions were very challenging but the girls are eager and excited to earn a berth for the World Cup,” said skipper Rani.

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“Barring a couple of us in the team, most of them have not participated in a World Cup event and that anticipation is driving the team to give their 100 percent each session, each match and I am confident of a good show,” she said.

The team will play two practice matches against England and Ireland on 3 and 5 July respectively, ahead of their first Pool B match against hosts South Africa.

“We can test ourselves against these two countries and analyse the areas we need to improve before we play our first match. While the recent camp was focused on improving speed and fitness, we also worked individually with strikers, midfielders and defenders, created more awareness about the techniques and strategies we need to adapt to and I am happy with the kind of progress the team has shown,” Marijne said.

Read: Rani Rampal-led India will begin their women’s HWL semis campaign on 8th July

India are placed in a tough group with South Africa, USA, Chile and Argentina.

“Here in Delhi, we tried out different activities in which tennis too was one of them. I wanted the girls to understand what unforced errors are in tennis. When we played against New Zealand last month, it’s not that we played badly but we made unforced errors which led to them scoring many goals. If we can avoid these slip ups then I believe we stand a good chance,” stated the Dutchman.