New Delhi, Oct 4 (IANS) Forward Vandana Katariya was named captain of the 18-member Indian women’s hockey squad announced on Tuesday for the fourth edition of the Asian Champions Trophy to be played in Singapore between October 29 and November 5.
The Uttarakhand player’s deputy will be gritty defender Sunita Lakra for the tournament that will feature the Asian continent’s five best teams — defending champions Japan, India, China, Korea and Malaysia.
This is the first tournament the Indian team will play after the 12th and last-place finish at the Rio Olympics in August.
Vandana feels the tournament will help the team access where they stand. “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.
Apart from Sunita, other key defenders are Deep Grace Ekka, Renuka Yadav and Namita Toppo.
The midfield will be marshalled by experienced Rani Rampal, who will also have the support of Navjot Kaur, Monika and Deepika.
The field goal-scoring duties will be on Vandana, Poonam Rani and T. Anuradha Devi.
Savita and Rajani Etimarpu have been named goalkeepers.
The Asian Champions Trophy will follow a round robin format with each team playing each other once followed by the gold and bronze medal matches at the Sengkang Hockey Stadium.
“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,” chief coach Neil Hawgood said.
“The team has been training at SAI centre Bhopal over the past three weeks and are looking fresh from a well deserved break post Rio.”
Goalkeepers: Savita, Rajani Etimarpu
Defenders: Deep Grace Ekka, Renuka Yadav, Sunita Lakra (vice-captain), Hnialum Lal Ruat Feli, Namita Toppo
Midfielders: Nikki Pradhan, Navjot Kaur, Monika, Rani Rampal, Deepika, Navdeep Kaur
Forwards: Poonam Rani, Anuradha Devi Thokchom, Vandana Katariya (Captain), Preeti Dubey, Punam Barla