Olympics: After 32 years, will they do it this time?Feb 18, 2012 | Amit Tiwari
Stage is set for Olympic qualifiers at Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium in New Delhi and Indian women hockey team is in a quest to book their berth for London Olympics 2012.
It was in 1980 Moscow Olympics when Indian eves represented country in the games and that too on an invitational basis.
After being eluded for 32 years, a confident looking Indian team is expected to kick off their campaign on a winning note against weaker side of Ukraine on Saturday.
In the Olympics qualifiers games, advantage is with India. After Ukraine India will play Canada on Sunday, Poland on Feb 21, South Africa on Feb 22 and Italy on Feb 24.
South Africa is the only highest ranked team in the qualifiers. Ranked at No.12, South African side is also favourite for the London Olympics but World No.13 India will be the team to beat.
India have a good mix of youth and experience, which will help them to overcome Italy (19th), Canada (20th), Ukraine (26th) and Poland (28th) in the tournament.
Forward Rani Rampal, skipper Asunta Lakra, defender Subhadra Pradhan, forward Jasjeet Kaur Handa and midfielder Deepika Thakur are carrying experience of playing in the 2008 qualifiers and expectations are high from them this time.
Despite of good performance in the warm-up game against Canada, Indians have long tendency to give away early leads. This is the key area of concern and girls will have to improve their games in the tournament.
Against Canada, Indian eves converted three out of four short corners in the goal but they will have to be consistent.
Indian side also ended their preparation for Olympics qualifiers in style after beating Azerbaijan 4-0 in Test series.
On the other hand, Ukraine will try to earn more experience when they will play against India. They have nothing to lose will try to win hearts by their performance.
Well, Ukraine side is inexperienced but they have reason to cheer as they have one man, who is aware of Indian side. Former Indian Hockey coach Jose Brasa has arrived in India as advisor of Ukrainian women team. Brasa knows everything about the turf, the atmosphere that his team will face on Saturday.