Indian women's hockey squad named for the South Africa tour
Hockey India (HI) on Wednesday announced the national women's squad for the tour of South Africa, which includes two matches each against Germany, Scotland and the hosts from February 20 to March 1.
The tour which is one of the many international exposure tours planned for the Indian eves ahead of the upcoming Summer Olympics in Rio will see ace midfielder Ritu Rani lead the team with assistance from defender Deepika.
The team, which has qualified for the summer Olympics for the first time in 36 years, will play under the guidance of chief coach Neil Hawgood across various locations in South Africa.
India will play two matches each against Germany, Scotland and hosts South Africa.
"We are looking forward to the tour which will take place right after the South Asian Games. We are up against three world class teams and it will help us immensely in our preparations ahead of the Rio Olympics," Hawgood said in a release.
The Indian goalpost will be guarded by Savita, Rajani Etimarpu and Yogita Bali, while the defensive wall will comprise of Deep Grace Ekka, Deepika, Namita Toppo, Jaspreet Kaur, Sunita Lakra, P. Sushila Chanu, Gurjit Kaur and Rashmita Minz.
The pack of midfielders will comprise of Ritu, Lilima Minz, Navjot Kaur, Hnialum Lal Ruat Feli, Renuka Yadav, M. Lily Chanu, Narinder Kaur, Nikki Pradhan and Manpreet Kaur. The Indian attack will consist of Rani Rampal, Poonam Rani, Vandana Kataria, Anuradha Devi Thokchom, Preeti Dubey and Navpreet Kaur.
"We are taking a larger squad for the tour to South Africa so that we can assess more probables as we lead into the Olympics," Hawgood reasoned.
"There are a few other international exposure trips that have been planned and all these trips will serve the purpose of preparing the girls for Rio later this year," the Australian, who is in his second stint with the side, added.
Further matches are planned against the South African Under-21 squad.
Prior to the tour, India will be heading to Guwahati to play the in South Asian Games against Sri Lanka and Nepal from February 7 to 11.