With their campaign back on track following a rocky beginning, India will need to put on another fierce all-around display in their last pool match to defeat lower-ranked Italy and advance to Tuesday’s FIH Women’s Olympic Qualifier quarterfinals.

The sixth-ranked Indians did not have the best of beginnings in the competition as they dropped their initial Pool B encounter, 0-1, to the world-ranked USA.

However, the hockey team captained by Savita Punia came back from behind and put on a masterful display to defeat New Zealand 3-1 in a crucial game on Sunday, maintaining their hopes of qualifying for the Olympics in Paris.

India’s sole opportunity to make it to the Olympics this year is through the current competition since the top three teams will receive tickets to Paris. India missed the bus to the Asian Games.

With two victories, the USA leads Pool B. India and New Zealand are tied for third place with three points apiece, but their goal differential puts them below the Black Stick.

And in order to advance to the next round on Tuesday, the Indians would demand nothing short of a decisive victory over Italy, ranked 20th in the world.

The top two teams from each group will advance to Thursday’s semifinals.

Even though the Indians’ performance against the Americans on Saturday was unimpressive, their performance against the Black Sticks represented a dramatic change.

The Indians defeated New Zealand with ease, playing nearly flawless hockey to forget the disappointing first game.

When playing against the USA, the Indians were guilty of rushing passes and not playing their trademark short, crisp attacking hockey. On Sunday night, however, things completely changed as they made use of every area of the field, especially the flanks, to construct their successful movements.

Janneke Schopman, the head coach, would anticipate the same performance from her team on Tuesday.

The backline, midfield, and attacking players all coordinated flawlessly, something that was lacking against the USA.

Against New Zealand, Salima Tete was a constant presence on the field. She performed brilliantly, building up attacks for the forward line from the left, right, and center.

With players like Sangita Kumari, Jyoti, Navneet Kaur, and Lalremsiami exceeding the team’s hopes, the forward line also shone brightly, and the management of the squad would be hoping for more.

Coach Schopman praised the backline, which includes Monika, Beauty Dung Dung, Sonika, and Udita, for their outstanding performance against New Zealand. However, Schopman will be hoping for consistency from her team.

The Indians still have a lot of work to do in that area, even though Udita converted a penalty corner against New Zealand.

India’s greatest issue remains the converting of penalty corners, as they have only converted one of the 13 they have received in the last two games.

Italy, on the other side, would like to ruin India’s celebration even though they are eliminated from the running after losing two games.

Not surprisingly, Schopman is not taking the Italians lightly. “It will be difficult since they have a Mediterranean flair, are lively, and are combative. Regarding India’s upcoming game. But if we move the ball and if we show patience, then our skills will come to shine.” said Schopman

“We must make sure we execute in the penalty corner. Ensuring that our strikers are positioned appropriately within the striking circle is imperative.” India will have the advantage of playing following Tuesday’s USA vs. New Zealand Pool B match, which will give them a clear indication of the winning margin they need against Italy.