The Indian women’s hockey team may not have won a single match during its Argentina tour but coach Sjoerd Marijne believes competing against the world No. 2 Argentina helped nevertheless.
Talking to Hockey India before leaving Buenos Aires, Dutchman Marijne said that the exposure came in handy ahead of the all-important Tokyo Olympics later this year.
The tour, according to the coach, was also helpful in allowing young players to gain international exposure, with Marijne saying that it was important for the future of the team.
“Overall, this tour has helped us gain that confidence of playing against a top side like Argentina,” Sjoerd Marijne said. “We had the chance to experience what it takes to beat a team like Argentina and the areas we need to focus on to succeed against a quality side.
“In all three matches against the senior women, it was very closely contested, and the matches could have gone either way. Even the match where we lost 2-0, they (Argentina) were very effective, but our quality of play was very high in that game.”
The Indian hockey team began its tour by holding the Argentine junior team to 2-2 and 1-1 draw in the opening two matches.
India then lost to Argentina ‘B’ 2-1 and 3-2 before coming up short against the senior team 3-2 and 2-0. The Indians, however, wrapped up the tour with a 1-1 draw in the last match against the senior side.
Having played the Las Leonas in the past, captain Rani Rampal said that the tour helped the team understand the progress it has made over the past few years and that the side could now challenge the best in the business.
“In 2017 when we played against Argentina at the World League Semi-Final (a match that they lost 3-0), we stood no chance of coming close to them. We couldn't go into their circle; we couldn't create opportunities or penalty corners,” Rani Rampal pointed out.
“I remember, before going into matches against top teams like Argentina, we would tell each other that we should just try and keep the score low but now we go into these matches wanting to win.
“There's a big difference now and with a little more change to our game, we can definitely beat top teams. The whole experience of the tour was fantastic, and we know the level we are at despite a year-long break in competitions due to COVID-19,” Rani said.
The Indian women’s hockey team will go on a two-week break next before regrouping at the Sports Authority of India (SAI), Bengaluru campus for the national coaching camp.