Rani to lead Indian eves in HWL semis
New Delhi [India], June 21 (ANI): Rani will lead the 18-member Indian women's hockey squad while Sushila Chanu Pukhrambam will serve as vice-captain in the Hockey World League Semi Final, beginning July 8 in Johannesburg.
The team features an experienced line-up with the defence formed by Deep Grace Ekka, Sunita Lakra, Monika, Sushila Chanu Pukhrambam and Gurjit Kaur who also doubles up as a drag flicker. The goal will be kept by Savita and Rajani Etimarpu. The midfield will be formed by Ritu Rani, Lilima Minz, Navjot Kaur, Renuka Yadav, Nikki Pradhan and Namita Toppo. The forwardline features Rani, Vandana Katariya, Preeti Dubey, Anupa Barla and Reena Khokhar.
Though the Women's team suffered a 0-5 loss in their previous tour in New Zealand where they played the hosts in a Five-Match Series, the Indian women's team will aim for better results at the Hockey World League Semi Final (Women) which also happens to be a qualifying tournament for the 2018 Women's World Cup in London.
"While our first aim is to do well in the Pool Stage and do well against opponents like South Africa and Argentina, our big aim at the tournament is to qualify for the World Cup next year. Though the qualifying criteria is top five teams, since England are the hosts, our criteria will be to finish in top 6 to qualify for the World Cup," expressed Chief Coach Sjoerd Marijne.
India are grouped in Pool B along with strong opponents Argentina, South Africa, Chile and USA. The event will also see participation from Germany, England, Ireland, Japan and Poland.
The Indian team has been put through intense high-altitude training over the past three weeks at the SAI Centre, Shillaroo where the national camp is underway. Marijne underlined the team's fitness as one of their main priorities during this camp.
"While we put in a lot of work in defensive and attacking structure, we have done a lot of work on fitness and speed. I am happy with the team's effort because training in high-altitude can be very challenging," stated the 43-year-old Dutchman.
Ahead of their departure end of this month, the national squad will train in New Delhi for a week.
India will begin their campaign at the Hockey World League Semi Final against South Africa.
The Indian squad is as follows:
Savita, Rajani Etimarpu, Deep Grace Ekka, Sunita Lakra , Gurjit Kaur ,Sushila Chanu Pukhrambam (Vice Captain), Monika, Renuka Yadav, Nikki Pradhan, Namita Toppo, Navjot Kaur, Ritu Rani (captain), Lilima Minz, Reena Khokhar , Rani (Captain), Vandana Katariya , Anupa Barla, Preeti Dubey. (ANI)