Tour of Argentina, Germany helped fine-tune Tokyo 2020 preparations: India women's hockey vice-captain Savita Punia

The India women's hockey team are focused on improving their goal-scoring chances ahead of Tokyo 2020

By Samrat Chakraborty

Following the Covid-19 situation, which saw most of the matches being called-off, the India women's hockey team returned to action with two much-needed exposure trips to Argentina and Germany.

The Indian eves remained winless in Argentina, with three draws and four losses. They would later go on to lose all their matches in Germany.

However, Indian women's team vice-captain Savita Punia, however, believes that the tour exposed the areas where the side should work on in the run-up to Tokyo 2020.

"Not having played competitive matches in over a year, we were not sure how we would do against top teams like Argentina and Germany. We had worked a lot on our fitness in the past year and also played a lot of matches amongst each other as well as the Junior Men's team, but it was only when we played against Argentina did we realize where we really stand in our tactical performance and areas that need improvement ahead of the Olympics," Savita said.

Even though the results did not turn out to be in favour of the Indian eves, the matches gave exposure to a lot of young talents, and Savita believes it will help the team formulate different combinations ahead of the Olympics, which is set to start on July 23, 2021.

"Quite a few youngsters got a chance to play in these two tours and this was very important as they would understand and learn the temperament and the level required to do well against such top teams. We were also able to try different combinations during the tours and I feel all this will certainly help in the days leading up to the Olympics," Savita said.

The core group of players for Tokyo 2020 is currently training at the National Coaching Camp at Sports Authority of India (SAI) in Bengaluru. Savita asserted that the Indian women's team is competitive and are currently working on their fitness levels keeping the conditions at Tokyo in mind.

Savita also wants to see more creativity and defensive solidity.

"Every player in the core group is very excited and are giving their 100 percent in every session. We have a strong pool of players and each one is very competitive and will be gunning for a place in the final team for the Olympics," she said.

"Fitness has played a major role in our improvement so far and if we have to do well in Tokyo, fitness will play a crucial role considering the weather conditions over there. We are currently also working on creating more scoring chances and improving our defence. We are leaving no stone unturned in our preparations," she added.