Coach Neil Hawgood is satisfied with the steady progress of the Indian women’s hockey team, which finished runner-up at the Asian Champions Trophy in Japan.

“We defeated some higher ranked teams, which is good. Our performance was consistent through the tournament,” he said, after the team returned from Kakamigahara with the silver medal.

This was the Indian women’s team’s third medal this year in major competitions, but Hawgood is cautious about not getting carried away.

“We need to take it one at a time, and our main target is to be the top team in Asia,” he said.

Making the final for the first time, India lost 1-0 to Japan.

“We beat China, and ran Korea and Japan close. India is 12th in the world while China is seventh and the other two are also in the top 10,” Hawgood said.

“We did well at the Asia Cup also, and I think we are moving in the right direction. The team has got the confidence that it can defeat a team ranked seventh consistently. The next step is to compete against and perform against teams ranked 1-6 in the world.”

Hawgood is now looking forward to the next big target, the 2014 Asian Games.

“That will be the most important assignment next because it holds a ticket to the Olympics. But there is a lot of hockey happening in the coming months,” he said.

“There is the Champions Challenge in April, and the Commonwealth Games in July. We will also possibly have a Europe tour.”

“We get back to training on November 19, and the next 2-3 months will be all about planning and training. We will hopefully have a clearer idea of how the team composition will look like for the year-end,” he said. — Special Correspondent

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