After pulling off an almost impossible qualification heist for the 2016 Rio Games, only to get a brutal reality check, the Indian women’s hockey team is all set for the Tokyo Olympics. It is the women in blue’s third Olympic appearance and their first time participating in back-to-back Summer Games. It took the Indian women’s hockey team three decades to secure their second Olympic berth and it was a forgetful experience.
They finished second last in Brazil having won just one out of their five games. Their lone win which came against Japan was no easy affair as they came from behind twice to win their only game of the event and salvage some pride. But the circumstances are much better this time around. The Indian team goes into the Tokyo Olympics as the most improved team from the previous edition of the quadrennial event.
Ever since the Rio humiliation, the team has improved leaps and bounds to become a much better side. With form and experience on their side, the Indian women’s hockey team will be a force to reckon with at the Summer Games. Ahead of the Games, we bring to you a SWOT analysis of the side that will be gunning for a podium finish in Tokyo.
SWOT Analysis of the Indian Women’s Hockey Team
The experience in the ranks is the greatest strength for the Indian side. With the likes of Rani Rampal, Vandana Katariya, Deep Grace Ekka, and goalkeeper Savita Punia having featured in over 200 games, the side has an abundance of experience. Barring the veterans, the team features eight debutants who will be rearing to make their mark on the grandest stage.
Earlier this year, the Indian women’s hockey team traveled to Argentina and Germany where they looked impressive. While they didn’t win all their games, they gave a tough fight to the big guns of Europe, sending a message ahead of the Olympics. The team combination looks formidable with the players working together like a well-oiled machine having played together for the last two years.
The team has shown a lot of promise over the last couple of years, yet they have failed to seize the opportunities at the right moment. Despite putting up a great fight against the big teams, they have failed to get over the line on most occasions and that reflects in the rankings. India is ranked 9th in the FIH rankings and has only one team below them among those traveling for the Olympics.
A lack of game time due to the pandemic too might come to haunt them on the grand stage. Much will depend on Savita Punia and the defenders to keep the opposition strikers at bay. Given their rankings and past performances, it will be a huge achievement for the Indian women’s hockey team if they make it to the knockout stages.
The team is the perfect blend of experience and youth. With eight debutants who will be rearing to make their mark on the grandest stage, the team doesn’t lack the passion to succeed. The Indian team has nothing to lose in the main event but they have an opportunity to show the world what they are made up of.
While the onus will be on the veterans, youngsters like Lalremsiami and Salima Tete will be looking to cement their places in the squad and hence should make every opportunity count. The Indian women’s hockey team has the opportunity to emerge as the dark horse in the event and every Indian will be hoping they do so at the Tokyo Olympics.
Having been placed in Group A, there is no dearth of threats for the Indian divas. The group features reigning Olympic champions Great Britain along with three-time Olympic champions, the Netherlands and Australia. Their group also includes Ireland and South Africa with the latter being the only team ranked below India in the FIH rankings.
The group is the group of death and is undoubtedly a Herculean task for India to make it to the quarterfinals. If the Indian women’s hockey team is to make it to the next round, they will have to give their best from the get-go. While Great Britain, Netherlands and Australia will be tough opponents, one cannot rule out the runners-up of the 2008 World Cup, Ireland from the threat list.