After almost a year, the Indian women’s hockey team will play a series of quality competitive matches in Argentina.
Indian women’s hockey team drag flick specialist Gurjit Kaur reckons the Argentina trip will prove to be a good gauge of where the team stands heading into the Tokyo Olympics later this year.
Having been away from competitive hockey since January last year, the Indian eves will finally return to action with the tour to Argentina starting Sunday. Over the course of its stay in South America, the 25-member touring squad, including Gurjit, will play eight matches.
While they start playing preparatory matches against the Argentina junior and B teams from January 17, India's final four fixtures will be against a strong Argentina senior women’s team.
“Playing against a strong team like Argentina in their home ground won't be easy but our focus will be on bringing out our best play against them,” Gurjit told the Hockey India website.
“This will be our first competitive match in almost a year and we are keen on learning where we stand in terms of fitness and execution against a top team like Argentina who are currently ranked No. 2 in the world,” she said.
The squad left India on January 3 and has been training in Buenos Aires after serving the quarantine period.
“We have been here nearly 10 days and have got a few sessions on the pitch. We have paid extra attention to areas such as penalty corner conversion and penalty corner defending,” Gurjit revealed.
Gurjit, a defender, also expects a tough test for the Indian backline against a free-scoring Argentina team, featuring ace goal scorers like Julieta Jankunas and Gorzelany Agustina.
Facing the Argentine onslaught along with Gurjit will be goalkeeper and vice-captain of the team Savita Punia.
Savita, an Asian Games silver medallist, is also looking forward to the upcoming matches starting with the fixture against the Argentina junior women’s team.
“This week, we will be getting four good sessions of hockey where our focus will be on getting match-ready,” Savita said.
Despite the team being out of action for almost a year, Savita Punia is confident that the squad won’t be lacking in the fitness department, courtesy the hard yards the group put in at the national camps.
“Though we have not competed in the past one year due to COVID-19 restricting our tours, we have achieved match-fitness. We have not played Argentina in the recent past and we are confident of a good show,” Savita reckoned.