Ahead of the Olympic Test Event which starts from Saturday at the Oi Hockey Stadium, the Indian women’s hockey team captain Rani Rampal and her male counterpart Harmanpreet Singh have said that their teams are capable of beating any team in the world.
Both the teams will play in the tournament as part of their preparations for the Olympic Qualifiers, which are to be held in November 2019. The winners of the Olympic Qualifiers will secure their place in the Tokyo Olympics 2020.
Indian men, ranked world no. 5, are the top-ranked team at the event and will be up against world no. 8 New Zealand, world no. 12 Malaysia and world no. 16 Japan.
The side being led by defender and drag-flicker Harmanpreet is without a few experienced players who have been rested for the tournament and thus will bank on the likes of the captain himself and vice-captain Mandeep Singh.
“We have a great opportunity to test a younger bunch of players in the matches against Malaysia, Japan and New Zealand. They are good teams to play against and we are now adjusting well to our chief coach’s ideas. It will be a good test for us but we are well-prepared and will go into every match with the intent to win it,” stated Singh.
The world No.10 women’s team will have a comparatively tougher campaign at the tournament as they face world no. 2 Australia, world no. 11 China and world no. 14 Japan.
The biggest competitor for the side will be the highest-ranked Australian team who they have not faced since their 0-1 loss in the semi-final of the Commonwealth Games 2018.
However, captain Rani believes that facing a big team before they take part in the Olympic Qualifiers later this year will help the team in preparing well for the bigger challenges ahead.
“We have a great challenge in front of us at the Olympic Test Event, but we are pretty confident of doing well. We face Australia, China and Japan, and it will be a tough tournament, but we know we can beat any team in the world. We have prepared well together as a unit, and the upcoming tournament will also help us with exposure against good teams,” said Rani ahead of their first match against hosts Japan on Saturday.
“The journey to the Tokyo Olympics 2020 starts from here, and we will give our everything to win the tournament, and prepare to qualify for the Olympics,” she added.