"Indian team pumped up to defend Asia Cup title" - Deep Grace Ekka 

A file photo of Deep Grace Ekka. (PC: Hockey India)
A file photo of Deep Grace Ekka. (PC: Hockey India)

Vice-captain Deep Grace Ekka feels the Indian team is looking forward to giving their best at the 2022 Asia Cup. The Asia Cup is scheduled to take place from January 21 to January 28 in Muscat.

India will play alongside China, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore, South Korea and Thailand in the tournament. Given the competitiveness in the tournament, the Indian team will have to be at their best to defend their Asia Cup title.

Ace defender Ekka highlighted the importance of the tournament and gave a brief description of the team's preparations.

"It is sort of a new start for us. This will be our first full tournament after the Tokyo Olympics as unfortunately, we could only play one game in Korea at the Women's Asian Champions Trophy 2021," Deep Grace Ekka said.

Deep Grace Ekka added:

"We held a training camp at the Sports Authority of India in Bengaluru after our return from the Asian Champions Trophy. We have been able to work on several aspects of our game in attack and in defense. We are pumped up to defend our title at the Women's Hockey Asia Cup."

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Important year for the Indian team, says Deep Grace Ekka

The Indian women's hockey team during a training session ahead of the Asia Cup. (PC: Hockey India)
The Indian women's hockey team during a training session ahead of the Asia Cup. (PC: Hockey India)

The top four teams in the Asia Cup will qualify for the 2022 FIH Women's Hockey World Cup to be held in Spain and the Netherlands later this year.

With FIH Pro League matches and Asian Games also scheduled to take place in 2022, Ekka believes the tournament can set their momentum this year.

"It is important for us to perform well in the tournament as it will set the momentum for us for the upcoming challenges in 2022. It is a packed year for us, and the more games we play, the more we will be able to test ourselves and what we have been working on the training grounds," she said.

India won the Women's Hockey Asia Cup trophy in 2017 to qualify for the Hockey World Cup 2018, where they managed to reach the knockout stages.

Also read: Indian Women's Hockey Team reach Muscat ahead of Asia Cup 2022

In 2018, India also went on to win the silver medal at the Asian Games. Deep Grace Ekka believes a successful title defense in Muscat could once again be the start of India's road to a successful year.

"Winning the Asia Cup in 2017 was a turning point for us and it really gave us the confidence that we can perform on the big stage if we play as a team. Winning the trophy once again can really motivate our players to perform even better this year and have an unforgettable 2022. It is very important for us to have a positive start," she said.
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Deep Grace Ekka throws light on her role

The versatile player highlighted her role in the team as a senior player in the defense and the vice-captain of the team.

"When you are a senior player, you not only have to ensure that you give your 100 percent at all times, but also motivate everyone else to do the same. I take this responsibility of being the vice-captain very seriously, and at any point in the game, I am required to contribute, I will do so," she said.

Speaking on the tactics needed for a water-tight defense, Deep Grace Ekka said:

"It is integral to remain tight in defense, and I will continue to communicate with others in the defense line as and when we need to change our tactics or formation on the field, depending on the situation in a match," she said.

India will play their first match against Malaysia on January 21.

Also read: Asia Cup hockey: Savita Punia to lead 18-member squad, Deep Grace Ekka appointed deputy

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Edited by Diptanil Roy
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