After a decent performance in the recently concluded Glasgow Commonwealth Games, the Indian women hockey team is all geared for another challenge as they depart from New Delhi on Saturday for the upcoming Asian Games at Incheon, South Korea. (Despite pull outs, India aim for medals galore at Asian Games)
Asian Games, scheduled from September 19 to October 4, will provide a platform for the Indian women's team to qualify for the 2016 Rio Olympics. (Asian Games: Sania Mirza's U-turn)
The Ritu Rani-led team had been practising hard under the stewardship of chief coach Neil Hawgood at NSNIS, Patiala and Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium in New Delhi. (Indian men's hockey team departs for Asian Games)
The Indian women's team consisting experienced players like vice-captain Deepika (131 caps), Rani (116 caps), Poonam Rani (118 caps), besides Ritu Rani -- all of whom had played in the last edition of the Asian Games -- India would certainly fancy their chances.
The Indian eves will start their campaign against Thailand on September 22 before clashing with China (Sep 24) and Malaysia (Sep 26) in Pool A.
Speaking on the preparations for the Asian Games, coach Hawgood said, "The preparatory camp in Patiala and New Delhi has gone very well. We've had enough time to put in place strategies for each player. We looked closely at our key problems in converting penalty corners and we stressed on rectifying those areas. We are hopeful of doing well and winning gold at the Asian Games to qualify for 2016 Rio Olympics."
Captain Ritu Rani said the team had worked hard on improving their penalty corners during the one-month camp.
"We have worked hard on our shortcomings during a one month camp with our coach Neil Hawgood and Director High Performance, Roelent Oltmans.
A few areas, especially in the area of penalty corners we have focussed our efforts and have made improvements and are very confident on our strengths. "We can reach the final of the Asian Games and confident that the gold medal is in our reach," she said.
The Asian Games will see a total of eight teams divided into two groups.
List of Selected Players:
Goalkeeper: Savita. Defenders: Deep Grace Ekka, Deepika (vice-captain), Sunita Lakra, Namita Toppo, Jaspreet Kaur, Sushila Chanu, Monika. Midfielders: Ritu Rani (captain), Lilima Minz, Amandeep Kaur, Chanchan Devi Thokchom. Forwards: Rani, Poonam Rani, Vandana Katariya, Navjot Kaur.