India will take on the European heavyweights in two encounters in the tournament on Saturday and Sunday.

India and Germany will clash on Saturday and Sunday at the Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar in their FIH Women’s Pro League game. The Indians have won three of their four games played so far and are currently third on the table with nine points. The Germans however, are yet to open their account. They lost both their games against Belgium in Brussels and are faced with a must-win situation.

Things haven’t been so smooth for the Indians either. Their good start in the tournament came to an abrupt halt, as Spain stopped their winning run in their last game. So, the hosts will be looking to get back to winning ways, even more so as they are playing at home. Ahead of the important matches, captain Savita Punia and vice-captain Deep Grace Ekka shared their thoughts with the press. Here are the excerpts.

On mental preparation before Germany games

Other than the physical aspect of the sport, there is also a strong requirement of mental fortitude. Speaking on the subject Indian captain Savita Punia stressed on its importance. “Janneke’s (Schopman) presence in the team has been of great help. She has helped the team immensely. Before 2016, the concept of mental strength was non-existent, but now things have changed.”

“Skills, fitness, technical aspects aside we know how important mental preparation is. It helps our team handle pressure. It helps us remain calm in tough situations. Moreover, it also helps us to exercise our skills in the game. These are the skills we pick up on the training ground and this is what helps us win games,” added the captain.

On key to victory against Germany

Germany might be trailing so far in the FIH Women’s Pro League, but that doesn’t negate the fact that they are a great team.

“Our key to win against Germany will definitely be our fitness. It’s something that we have really worked on with time. We did not have this at first, but now it is not an issue. We can hang in there with the best of the best and show our level of play. The opportunity to play against a top team like Germany is a real blessing. The team is ready for the game and we plan to give our best against them,” she added.

What opposition thinks

The German contingent also shared their side of the story before their FIH Women’s Pro League game against India. Joining the media the German hockey captain Lisa Nolte said, “India are a very good team. They have great skills and the girls are very fast. Their performance in the (Tokyo) Olympics showed how good they really are. Moreover, they are playing to home advantage. Add to that, the weather out here is hot, so they will use it to their full advantage. However, we are optimistic we will handle it.”

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