AMSTELVEEN (Netherlands), Jul 2: National women’s hockey team captain Savita Punia is expecting the sizeable Indian community in the Netherlands to come to the venue and cheer the side in its World Cup matches.
India will open their campaign against England in pool B match here on Sunday, a year after losing to the same opponents in the bronze medal match at the Tokyo Olympics.
“There is a big Indian community in Netherlands and we are expecting many of them will turn up for the matches. We saw many of them come support us in Rotterdam during the Pro League matches and definitely fans support will motivate us even more,” she said.
At the previous edition of the World Cup in London in 2018, India matched the performance of England with a 1-1 draw in the round robin league game.
Earlier that year, the Indian team had beaten England 2-1 in the group stage of the Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast but had lost to them in the bronze medal match.
Talking about their opponents, Savita said, “Even though as a team, we would be focused on our own performance, England and India have faced off in some very close encounters and undoubtedly a rivalry has developed over the past three-four years in particular.
“Some of our players want to challenge their goalkeeper Maddie Hinge, who has been quite exceptional at the goalpost. And they also have some very experienced players like Laura Unsworth, Giselle Ansley, their Captain Hollie Pearne-Webb and Lily Owsley who will bring their ‘A’ game against us,” she added.
India and England were scheduled to play a double-header in FIH Hockey Pro League earlier this year, which would have given insights into their game, but the match was cancelled.
“Yes, a match against them would have been ideal in the lead up to the World Cup but we can’t be too bothered about what has happened in the past. The only aim for us right now is to get on to a good start in the tournament and the team is 100 per cent ready,” added the goalkeeper.
After England, India will play China on July 5, followed by a match against New Zealand on July 7. (PTI)