The India women hockey team could not impress much in the Rio Olympics, but they will hope for a solid performance in the upcoming Asian Champions Trophy, which will be held in Singapore later during the month. The team has been announced, captain Sushila Chanu has been dropped and forward Vandana Katariya has been named as the skipper.
The new captain will hope to inspire his players in the competition and go all the way. India have never won the title, but their performance have improved as they finished runners-up in 2013. The team looks decent with good players like Deep Grace Ekka in defence and quality attackers in the form of Vandana and Poonam Rani.
Coach Neil Hawgood wants the team to turn the heat in Asian Champions Trophy after their Rio disappointment.
"Though the Olympics could have ended better for the girls, they are high on confidence as they got to see what it really takes to play at the highest level and are vying to showcase top quality hockey during the Asian Champions Trophy," Press Trust of India quoted Neil Hawgood as saying.
"The team has been training at SAI, Bhopal over the past three weeks and are looking fresh from a well-deserved break post Rio."
India have gained valuable experience after playing some quality teams like Netherland, Germany, Spain and others in Rio. The level of competition in the Champions Trophy is not going to be that of Rio, but India have to be on top of their toes to defeat some top teams like South Korea and Japan. The other two teams – China and Malaysia – cannot be taken for granted as well.
Vandana is confident and also excited about the new responsibility, which has been handed over to her.
"I feel honoured to lead the team as they are a great bunch and we understand each other's weak and strong points. Rio was a great experience and there is a lot of scope for us to improve and I feel this tournament will help us understand where we stand and how we can improve our game as a team as well as individually," Vandana said.
India women squad: Savita, Rajani Etimarpu, Deep Grace Ekka, Renuka Yadav, Sunita Lakra, Hnialum Lal Ruat Feli, Namita Toppo, Nikki Pradhan, Navjot Kaur, Monika, Rani, Deepika, Navdeep Kaur, Poonam Rani, Anuradha Devi Thokchom, Vandana Katariya, Preeti Dubey and Punam Barla.