Sunday, July 8, 2018

Rani to lead Indian women’s hockey team in Asian Games

Striker Rani Rampal will lead an 18-member women’s squad for the 18th Asian Games, which is slated to commence on August 18 in Jakarta, announced Hockey India.

Goalkeeper Savita Punia has been named the vice captain and she will be joined by Rajani Etimarpu at the goalpost for the prestigious event, where India will vie for the gold to earn a direct qualification for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

India’s defence will feature the experienced Deep Grace Ekka, Sunita Lakra, Deepika, Reena Khokhar and dragflicker Gurjit Kaur, while the team’s midfield will include Namita Toppo, Lilima Minz, Monika, Udita, Nikki Pradhan and Neha Goyal.

The forward-line will be led by the skipper Rani who has over 200 international caps for India. She will be ably-supported by Vandana Katariya who also completed 200 international caps for India at the recently held Spain Tour.

Youngster Lalremsiami has also been rewarded with a place in the squad for her recent exploits and she will be joined by Navneet Kaur and Navjot Kaur, who have had a good showing in the recent tournaments for India.

“We have a good mixture of experienced and young players. I’m happy to note that each one of them have experienced what it is like to play high level matches,” expressed chief coach Sjoerd Marijne, adding that the team’s performance at the forthcoming Vitality Hockey Women’s World Cup London starting July 21 will be a crucial one.

While India have etched their place as a dominant team at the Asian level with their winning performances at the 9th Women’s Asia Cup (winners in 2017) and the Asian Champions Trophy (winners in 2016; runners up in 2018), China ranked No.8 in the world and Korea ranked at No.9 will be a threat to India's campaign for Gold at the Asian Games.

On asked if the team is working on specific areas to excel against China and Korea, Sjoerd said, “The team’s focus at the moment is on the Vitality Hockey Women’s World Cup London 2018. A good show there will certainly give us the right momentum for the 18th Asian Games and who our opponents are, won’t matter if our performance is good in all areas.”

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