Indian women hockey team chief coach Janneka Schopman says qualifying for the World Cup is key objective for her side at the upcoming Asia Cup, where she will also assess her players’ style and standard, going forward.
India will enter Asia Cup, to be held in Muscat from January 21 to 28, as defending champions. The winner of the event will qualify for the World Cup, which will be held in Netherlands and Spain from July 1 to 17 this year.
Schopman, for whom the Asia Cup will only be her second assignment with the team, is eager to make a positive start.
“First of all, our key objective will be to qualify for the World Cup. That is most important because that is where the best teams in the world come together to compete,” Schopman said in a Hockey India release.
“I am also very keen to see the level where we are at the moment and whether we can execute the style of play that I envision for the team.
“I am not looking to measure my team against our opponents in the competition, but instead against my own expectations of how I want my team to play. I am eager to see how the team will perform in Oman as it will be really challenging,” Schopman added.
Schopman, who was Sjoerd Marijne’s deputy during the Tokyo Olympics where Indian women narrowly missed out on a historic bronze and finished fourth, said her main focus in the ongoing training camp here is on striking a balance between attack and defence.
“We are working on defining our style of play as the Indian women’s team. That means a lot of movement on and off the ball and people joining in attack as we want to play fast and attacking hockey. We want to make use of our skills and speed to good effect.
“At the same time, we want to be a sturdy defensive unit. I am happy with what I am seeing because the better we defend in training, the more necessary it becomes to attack better, and that really accelerates the progress of the team,” said Schopman, an Olympic gold medallist with the Netherlands team in 2008 Beijing.
Also a World Cup gold medallist, Schopman is realistic about her expectations from the Indian women’s team.
“Having been a player myself, I understand that there are certain situations when you are just expected to win. However, my expectations from the team are quite different.
“Each player has a job to do on the field and I am more concerned with how the players execute their own jobs and responsibilities out on the field.
“I am more concerned with the performance than the results, and if we are able to keep performing how we want then I am sure that the results will follow,” she concluded.
India will open their campaign in the eight-nation tournament against Malaysia on January 21.