Asian Games Women Hockey Preview

A place in Tokyo 2020 will be foremost on the minds of teams in the women’s competition of the Asian Games that opens its campaign at the GBK Hockey Stadium in Jakarta.

All eyes will be on India , South Korea, Japan, China and Malaysia – though not in that order.

With the Women World Cup being completed last month in London, the Asian teams who actually fared poorly, will be looking towards redemption in the Asian Games.

And China coach Jamilon Mulders laid bare the fact that his team focussed on the Asian Games rather then the World Cup.

“ As early as September 2017, we saw that the two tournaments were quite close together, hence our decision to focus on the Asian Games,” said Jamilon.

“ The Football World Cup causes the Hockey event to be moved towards July, therefore we realised it was going to be more difficult for the players.

“ I rested some 11 players for the World Cup so that they will be able to perform well here.”

But Jamilon was quick to take the pressure off his team, citing performance as a more decisive factor then the colour of the medal.

“ Of course Gold will be nice but we are looking at making the semis first,” contends Jamilon.

“ Teams like India, Japan, South Korea and Malaysia are capable of finishing among the top.

“ In particular I like the spirit of the Malaysian girls, they are truly a bunch of fighters.”

India , will be defending their gold medal and from the look of things in London, they are on the correct path.

They are the highest ranked nation in the tournament — pipping South Korea and China thanks to World Cup points — but will face tough competition from the two in the contest for the medals. They have experience though, and have been unbeaten against Asian opposition since last year.

“ We need to be more patient in our build ups and not lose possession easily,” contends Indian coach Sjoerd Marijne.

“ We have a team that is capable of taking on the worlds best one day, only to fold in the next, all due to lack of self belief.”

Malaysia, who are set with a target of finishing amongst the medallist, have coach K. Dharmaraj to thank for making them a formidable force.

“ The players are well aware of the daunting task that await them, but I believe in their ability to rise to the occasion,” said Dharmaraj.

“ Unlike others, we will play without any pressure and take it one step at a time.”

Placed in a group alongside China and Japan, Malaysia realise that getting full points of either team will require them raising their game a notch.

However being in such situations only spurs the world number 22 ranked team to outdo themselves.

Japan and South Korea too can pull the rug beneath the likes of China and India.

It all points to an interesting battle for the sole ticket to the 2020 Olympics.

The question will be just who is hungry enough to translate their desire into reality.