New Delhi:With not many international events coming their way in the run up to the Olympic qualifiers in Kazan, Russia, the Indian women's hockey team is relying heavily on the video analysis of their formidable opponents to ensure a berth in the Beijing Games.
The focus shifted to women's hockey after the men failed to qualify for the Beijing Olympics at the Santiago qualifier.
The players sure know the enormity of the challenge ahead as they will be going to the qualifiers without having played some frontline teams like the United States and the Netherlands Antilles.
"The Americans and the Dutch will be the biggest hurdles for us. We have not played them before and do not know much about their style of play. We have seen the US in the World Cup. We have managed to get their videos and we are seeing them every day and analysing their game," said skipper Mamta Kharb.
A good part of their ongoing training schedule in Lucknow goes into studying the videos of the teams they are going to play in Russia, but that can hardly be the substitute for actually playing them.
India is to fight it out with Belgium, France, the Netherlands Antilles, Russia and the US in the nine-day tournament, beginning April 19.
"The biggest drawback of our preparation is that we hardly play in international tournaments and we never get the so-called exposure trips. We are taking note of various players while watching the videos," she said.
"We are very sad that the men's team failed to qualify. We know people will want us to qualify, but we are not putting ourselves under any pressure because that will make our job even more difficult.
"We are practising very hard. We realise that the women's team has qualified only once in 1980. We are going to give it our best shot."
Mamta said the team was an experienced one and coach Maharaj Krishan Kaushik had prepared them well to have a real crack at the Olympic berth.
"There are five-six seniors in the side. Preetam Rani made a comeback into the national team after a long time and then there is Jasbeer Singh and other senior players who give depth to the team. Above all, we have got a good coach."
"He (Kaushik) established himself as an international coach and won us many medals. We are back to playing in the same formation that fetched us good results under him and that has helped us work out a good combination quickly," she said.
Despite the constraints of money and exposure, the women's team won a silver medal at the last Commonwealth Games and bronze at the Asian Games.