Pumped up India face Italy test
London, July 30
Bolstered by the campaign-saving draw against the mighty USA, Indian women’s hockey team will fancy its chances against lower-ranked Italy in the cross-over World Cup match, here tomorrow.Ranked 10th, India will start as favourites against 17th ranked Italy in the crucial knockout and a win will pit them against Ireland in the quarterfinals on Thursday.While India had to fight their way into the knockout round from Pool B after registering draws against England and USA and a loss to Ireland, Italy beat China (3-0) and Korea (1-0) before slumping to a 12-1 loss to the Netherlands.However, going into tomorrow’ game, the momentum surely would be on India’s side. Under pressure, the Indians produced a spirited performance against USA to come out of a difficult situation and salvage their World Cup campaign.Having conceded a goal in the 11th minute against USA, India were staring down the barrel and it took a valiant all-round effort and an inspiring goal from skipper Rani Rampal in the 31st minute to secure the all-important draw, a result which shut the doors on the Americans.Experienced India captain Rani knows what it takes to win such crucial matches and asserted that they need to go full throttle. “We need to just focus on ourselves, build on our strength and ensure we use our positive points in the match against Italy.” “There is no doubt we need to go all-out in this crucial crossover match if we want to see ourselves in the quarterfinal,” said Rani whose goal against USA enabled India to finish third in Pool B. The skipper also emphasised the need to have a winning mentality to do well in big tournaments. “We all knew a draw would be enough, but we wanted to go for the win. I think that attitude helped us,” she said. Notwithstanding Italy’s 12-1 drubbing against the Netherlands in their last match, the Indian skipper warned her side against complacency, saying the Italians are a serious contender. “Italy is a good team and they have enjoyed good wins in this tournament too. But we need to go into the match with the belief that we can beat them,” Rani said.