Indian senior hockey eves hit the drills in Asia Cup camp in Patiala

FILE PHOTO: Indian women hockey team’s Practice

The Indian senior women’s hockey team are busy putting their preparations in place at the National Institute of Sports, Patiala for the upcoming 8th Women’s Asia Cup hockey tournament, which gets underway at the National Hockey Stadium in Bukit Jalil Malaysia from September 21-27.

According to Hockey India sources, as many as 33 probables are being put through the paces at the camp which commenced on August 8 under the watchful eyes of Australian head coach Neil Hawgood and Indian coach Narender Singh Saini. The camp will be a long-drawn affair and will conclude on September 15.

The 8th Women’s Asia Cup attaches a lot of significance as the winner seals a ticket to the 2014 Women’s World Cup to be held in the Hague, Netherlands.

It may be worth recalling that the Indian senior hockey eves, under the captaincy of Ritu Rani, dished out a wretched display in the Hockey World League Round 3 event in Rotterdam, where they barely skirted a wooden spoon after beating Chile 2-1 to finish seventh.

Twelve members of the senior team were then drafted into the junior team for the 7th Junior Women’s World Cup in Monchengladbach, where the Blueskirts scripted history by garnering a bronze medal for the first time to set off euphoric celebrations across the country.

The national hockey selectors have now included these twelve junior players – Sushila Chanu (junior team captain), Vandana Katariya, Rani Rampal and Poonam Rani, Deep Grace Ekka, Namita Toppo, Manjit Kaur, Lily Chanu, Lilima Minz, Ritusha Arya, Navjot Kaur Anupa Barla – among the 33 probables.

The 33 probables are expected to be pruned down in the second week of September when the captain and team will be announced for the 8th Asia Cup.

Of course, the Indian senior hockey eves can derive inspiration from the junior team’s bronze-winning effort in Monchengladbach after their forgettable showing in Rotterdam.

The Ritu Rani-led side were crushed 0-7 by New Zealand in the tournament opener before they went on to suffer humiliating 1-8 and 1-7 drubbings at the hands of the Netherlands and Germany.

India senior hockey eves are pitted in a tough Group A alongside defending champions China, hosts Malaysia and Hong Kong.

Rapidly improving Japan, Korea, Taiwan and Kazakhstan comprise Group B.

India can take heart from their performance in the last Asia Cup in 2009 in Bangkok, where they finished runners-up losing 3-5 to China in the title tilt.

India have won the Asia Cup only once at the 2004 Asia Cup in their own backyard in New Delhi, when they vanquished Japan by a solitary goal.

The Blueskirts had finished runners-up in the 1999 edition – also held in New Delhi – losing 2-3 to South Korea.

The inaugural Women’s Asia Cup was first held in Seoul in 1985, where the host nation Korea cornered glory sneaking past Japan in the final showdown.

Korea have won the Women’s Asia Cup on most occasions – three times – they won the championship crown in 1996 in Hiroshima and in 1999 in New Delhi.

China have won the Asia Cup twice – they won the 1989 edition in Hong Kong besides their triumph in the last edition in Bangkok.

Japan have won the Asia Cup only once in 2007.

India have managed a podium finish in four of the seven Women’s Asia Cups so far.

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Edited by Staff Editor
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