New Delhi: While the Indian menaÂÂs hockey team may have fared disastrously in the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup in Malaysia, the women's team is busy preparing for the fifth Asia Cup that begins in New Delhi from January 31. After winning a silver medal at the 1998 Asian Games in Bangkok and gold at the 2002 Commonwealth Games in Manchester, the women's team has been building up momentum for the event. Ever since MK Kaushik took over as coach in June last year the team has been on something of a winning streak, capturing gold at a double-legged 3-nation tournament in Russia and gold at the Afro-Asian Games in Hyderabad. The Asia Cup will feature 8 teams, three of which are ranked above India as per the new IHF rankings. While the Indian eves are confident of doing well, the extra pressure to win gold could hamper their performance. aÂÂThe difference between the Asia Cup and the Afro-Asian Games is that in this tournament the teams will be much better so it will not be that easy for us to win the gold medal. But if we can come in the top three and do well in he tournament it will be very good for the girls,aÂÂ said Surajlata Devi, captain of the women's hockey team. The 8-nation tournament has been split into two groups - Group A includes hosts India, defending champions China, Kazhakistan and Malaysia. Group B has South Korea, Japan, Singapore and Sri Lanka. The team has been preparing for the Asia Cup for the past two months. With the final 16 for the tournament yet to be announced, competition for places in the team is really heating up.
Topics : Hockey