The Indian women's hockey team head coach Harendra Singh has set his sights on the upcoming important 2018 season as his team is ready to face higher-ranked opponents. With major tournaments like the Commonwealth Games and Asian Games lined up, this year is considered crucial for Indian hockey. After a short two-week break after a successful 2017, 33 women players will report for the national camp starting in Bengaluru's Sports Authority of India campus on Wednesday.
"It is an extremely important year for us. It was a satisfying 2017 where we ended the year with a career-high world ranking of 10, but the team has self-belief of achieving bigger goals.
"The girls know they are capable of doing well against higher ranked teams and getting good results against these teams will be one of our top priorities going into a new season. It is important to play these major tournaments in 2018 with the fittest team," Harendra said.
The 21-day camp that concludes on January 24 will lay the foundation for a crucial year for the women.
In their previous camp, the team's focus was on improving their strength, fitness, agility and speed apart from skill-driven training.
"It was a gruelling camp and apart from these aspects we also worked on a lot on mental conditioning. In this camp too we will continue with our fitness program along with tactical training," the coach said.
The team will take part in the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games in April, fifth women's Asian Champions Trophy at Korea in May to defend their title, followed by an exposure tour to Spain in June ahead of the Women's World Cup in London starting in July.
The 18th Asian Games are scheduled a month later in Jakarta, which is also an Olympic Qualifying event.
Core Group: Goalkeepers: Savita, Rajani Etimarpu, Swati
Defenders: Deep Grace Ekka, P Sushila Chanu, Sunita Lakra, Gurjit Kaur, Hnialum Lal Ruat Feli, Navdeep Kaur, Rashmita Minz, Neelu Dadiya
Midfielders: Namita Toppo, Nikki Pradhan, Deepika, Karishma Yadav, Renuka Yadav, Navjot Kaur, Monika, Lilima Minz, Neha Goyal, Udita, M Lily Chanu, Nilanjali Rai
Forwards: Rani, Vandana Katariya, Preeti Dubey, Reena Khokhar, Anupa Barla, Sonika, Lalremsiami, Poonam Rani, Navneet Kaur, Navpreet Kaur.
(With PTI inputs)