FIH Pro League: Indian women aim to turn the tide against USA

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Bhubaneswar, Feb 8 (PTI) Arresting the free-fall after a hat-trick of defeats will be the top-most agenda of Indian women's hockey team as it gears up to face the United States in its fourth FIH Pro League 2023-24 clash here on Friday.

Having failed to qualify for the Paris Olympics, the Savita Punia-led women's team's performance had gone from bad to worse in recent times.

India lost 1-2 to China, followed by another 1-3 defeat at the hands of The Netherlands. The hosts lost their third match on the trot against the formidable Australia, who blanked them 3-0.

Reflecting on the team's early setbacks, skipper Savita said: "Our initial matches have posed formidable challenges, but we're a resilient team. Each defeat has fuelled our determination to learn, adapt, and come back stronger.

"The upcoming clash against the USA is an opportunity to showcase our true potential and register our first win in the tournament." On the flip side, the USA had a challenging start to the tournament as well, suffering a comprehensive 0-7 defeat against the Netherlands.

Subsequent losses of 0-3 to Australia and 1-3 to China have added to their woes. The American squad, too, will be eager to bounce back in the tournament.

The Indian captain knows the significance of earning the first points in the tournament.

"Both the teams are hungry for victory, and we are fully aware of the significance of securing our first points.

We have analysed our strengths and areas of improvement, and we are ready to implement a strategic approach on the field. Our focus is on playing as a cohesive unit, supporting each other, and executing our game plan effectively." When it comes to their head-to-head record, the USA hold a statistically advantageous position with 10 victories in 16 encounters, while the Indian team has secured four wins, and two matches ended in draws.

Speaking on that record, Savita said, "Head-to-head records are historical statistics, but what matters most is the present. We respect our opponents, but our focus is on our game and executing our strategies.

The aim is clear – secure our first win in the FIH Pro League 2023-24 and build momentum for the challenges ahead." PTI KHS KHS UNG

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