Asia Cup: Savita Punia says Indian team will bank on experience

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

Indian women's hockey team captain Savita Punia is banking on the team's experience as they begin their Asia Cup campaign on Friday, January 21.

India will meet Malaysia in their first match of the Asia Cup in Muscat. Ace goalkeeper Savita Punia is leading the team in the absence of regular skipper Rani, who is undergoing a rehab at the Sports Authority of India in Bengaluru. Deep Grace Ekka will be Savita's deputy at the Asia Cup.

Savita Punia said the team's experience will be key to their performance at the prestigious quadrennial continental tournament. The Asia Cup is also a qualifying event for the FIH Women's World Cup 2022.

"The best part about this team is that many of us have been playing together for a long time and I feel this experience and team camaraderie will give us the edge over other teams," she said.

She added:

Our main priority will be to remain focused on our game and ensure we execute the plans against each team without making errors."

India are the defending champions of the Asia Cup. In the 2017 edition of the Asia Cup, India beat China 5-4 on penalties to be crowned champions.

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

Savita Punia hopes for a good start in Asia Cup

The defending champions are grouped in Pool A along with Japan, Malaysia and Singapore.

As with every tournament, Savita Punia emphasized, getting off to a good start will give the team the right momentum.

"We've played Malaysia quite a few times in the past and they are a good side. Doing well against them will give us the right start to the tournament. As a team, we believe in focusing on our own game and not worrying too much about what the opponent team can or cannot do. We just want to play to our strengths," she said.

Also Read: FIH updates penalty corner rules, protective equipment now allowed outside the circle

Savita Punia said the team's experience at the Tokyo Olympics has instilled a 'never-give-up' attitude and she believes the players will fight until the last minute.

"One of the good qualities of the team is that we have learnt to fight till the end. We don't give up if we are down by a few goals. I feel these aspects will matter when we play quality teams in an important tournament like this where a qualification for the FIH Women's World Cup is at stake," the Indian captain explained.

After the match against Malaysia on January 21, India will play Japan on January 23 and will take on Singapore in their last pool A match on January 24.

The semifinals of the Asia Cup will be played on January 26 and the final on January 28.

Also read: Savita Punia hopes for good year in Indian hockey

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Edited by Diptanil Roy
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