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‘India’s women hockey team lack drag flickers’

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A LACK of drag flickers is hampering the Indian women’s hockey team’s penalty corner conversion rate, chief coach Janneke Schopman has said.

The inability to convert was one of the reasons the side struggled during the Olympic qualifiers in January, costing them a spot at the Paris Games.

“We need potentially more depth in our penalty corner. That is a concern in women’s hockey in India,” Schopman said on the eve of FIH Pro League match against China.

“If you look at any other country in the top 10, they have five to six drag flickers and we do not. So there is work that needs to be happening in the talent development.”

Schopman said while the team is still hurting after its shocking failure to qualify for the Olympics, it is time to look ahead and make the most of the opportunities the Pro League provides.

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“As a team we are hurting still, it has been a tough two weeks. We have done a lot of talking and thinking about what happened. We want to show that we are a good team and we can play against good teams as well.

“We won’t get the Olympics back, but we can only move forward and that is our plan here, to move forward, to play to our strengths, and to show that we can play well.”

Schopman said that she was happy with the way the side had played in the Olympic qualifier despite finishing fourth.

“The hockey they played there, we created a lot of opportunities to score goals, but we didn’t (score). I believe we can play dominating hockey. We want to be a good team here and we want to score goals.

“In the last six months, in the Asian Games, I wasn’t happy with our team performance there, I was happy with the performance at the Olympic qualifiers.”

Schopman also spoke about the lack of fixtures last year.

“Unfortunately, in the last year we haven’t played very many matches that mattered, to be completely honest. We were not in the Pro League. From January to September, we maybe played four official matches. In Pro League you play 16.”

“In the Pro League, we have the opportunity to see how we fare against some of the best teams in the world. The exciting thing is we are up against these teams and they are not practice matches, it is hugely important for them before the Olympics and it will be great to take them on.”

“I think we can score goals and defend well… It will be interesting to see how it unfolds.”

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