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Tour of Argentina, Germany provided much-needed exposure: Women's Hockey defender Deep Grace Ekka
New Delhi, March 19, 2021
Experienced defender Deep Grace Ekka has said that recent tours to Argentina and Germany provided the Women's hockey team much-needed exposure in their preparations for the Olympic Games.
She was of the view that playing against world-class teams that have very unique playing styles has provided the Indian team crucial insights into their own game and has helped them define the areas that need attention in the lead-up to the Olympics.
"Playing against Argentina and Germany, both highly ranked in the world, with very different and unique playing styles, has been very helpful in planning the areas we need to improve in the days leading up to the Olympics," Grace told Hockey India in Bengaluru.
"World no. 3 Argentina plays man-to-man, and their style is quite conventional. Personally, for me, playing against Germany was quite intriguing because of their style and attacking game. There was a lot to learn about how the German players communicate on the field and how they create space in pursuit of circle entries. Their attack is aggressive, they are quick and think on their feet," she said.
Grace felt that the experience against Germany would help the team take on world no. 1 Netherlands in their opening match at the Olympic Games. "I felt that Germany and Netherlands have very similar style. They tackle two-on-one and the way they attack is very similar. I feel we have gained a lot of confidence playing against Argentina and Germany."
"We have no inhibitions or fear in our mind when we play these top teams now and another key element has been our fitness. We don't tire easily anymore and that will help us bounce back in the game and finish well even if there are early setbacks," she said.
"I feel we have improved a lot in our PC (penalty corner) defending. Though we need to avoid giving away PCs, we have improved in defending PCs. If we have given away 5-6 PCs in a match, we restrict conversion to 1 or at the most 2 which was not the case earlier," she said.
The ace defender also had a word of praise for team's Analytical Coach Jenneke Schopman. "Since Jenneke has joined the team, we have paid a lot of attention to PC defending and earlier, we would just take positions but now she's helped us work on our movements while defending a PC and that has made a lot of difference," she said.
"Analyzing our performance in Argentina and Germany, we realised that we need to focus more on our defence inside the circle and create more opportunities with good attacking tactics. We are currently focusing on these areas," Grace added.