Hockey action in the month of March shifted to New Delhi, where the Indian women’s hockey team took on some of the world’s lesser nations as well as a few formidable sides in the FIH Hockey World League Round 2 Event played at the Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium.
FIH Hockey World League: Indian women hockey team in full flow
The Ritu Rani-led Indian eves were in clinical form in the group phase, making mincemeat of Ghana 13-0 in their tournament opener, easing past Poland 2-0 and thumping Thailand 6-0. The Indian women’s team carried on their ‘lethal form’ in the knockout phase, routing Singapore 10-0 in the quarterfinals, sailing past Thailand 5-0 in the semifinals. India cornered glory pipping Poland 3-1 in the final, a win which secured the national’s berth in the Hockey World League Semifinal Round to be held in June this year.
Uncertainty over new coach
Meanwhile, the uncertainty over the newly-appointed women’s hockey team coach Anthony Thornton ended after the it came to light that the 47-year-old New Zealand would be not be able to take up the new job owing to medical issues, prompting Hockey India to scout for his replacement. Even as the women’s team were grappling with this uncertainty, the men’s team saw their newly-appointed head coach Paul van Ass from Netherlands arrive in India in the middle of the month to prepare the team for the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup.
On the global stage, Ireland and Canada have qualified for the Hockey World League Semifinal Round to be held in June this year by virtue of being the two top teams in the tournament. Ireland won the Dublin Round 2 Event getting the better of Canada in the final to join India and Poland in the HWL semifinals. It may be recalled that Uruguay, Italy and Azerbaijan had in February made it to the Hockey World League Semifinal Round by virtue of being the top three teams in the Montevideo Round 2 Event.