Rani Rampal to lead India in women's Asia Cup
New Delhi, Oct 16 (PTI) Striker Rani Rampal will captain an 18-member Indian team at the ninth women's Asia Cup hockey tournament, which starts from October 28 at Kakamigahara City, Japan.
Senior goalkeeper Savita has been named as the vice- captain of the side.
The team selected by Hockey India for the upcoming Asia Cup has five changes from their Europe Tour of Netherlands and Belgium.
Experienced defender Sushila Chanu Pukhrambam makes a comeback into the team while forwards Navneet Kaur, Navjot Kaur and Sonika have also been included.
Apart from the inclusions, the goal will be kept by Savita and Rajani Etimarpu while Deep Grace Ekka, Sunita Lakra, Suman Devi Thoudam and Gurjit Kaur will man the defence.
The midfield will feature Namita Toppo, Nikki Pradhan, Monika, Lilima Minz and Neha Goyal while Rani, Vandana Katariya and Lalremsiami will feature in the forward line.
This will be the first for new head coach Harendra Singh with the Indian eves and he would be looking towards a strong performance in Japan with qualification for next year's Hockey women's World Cup London 2018 being his top priority.
"We have a very good blend of youth and experience within our team which will help us in negating the tasks ahead of us at the women's Asia Cup. The team has played against higher ranked teams in the build-up to the tournament which has helped us in improving our game.
"We have made several minors adjustments and improvements in our game so that we don't repeat unforced errors in our play. We will be aiming to win the women's Asia Cup 2017 in order to qualify for next year's World Cup," said Harendra.
Captain Rani too is confident that the team can perform up to its potential at the women's Asia Cup.
"We have made improvements in our game wherever it was necessary. I feel the team is playing well as a unit and there is a good sense of cohesion in our squad. We are looking forward to performing well in Japan so that we can qualify for the World Cup," she said.
India have been placed in Pool A alongside China, Malaysia and Singapore and will start their campaign against Singapore on October 28.
Goalkeepers: Savita (vice-captain), Rajani Etimarpu
Defenders: Deep Grace Ekka, Sunita Lakra, Sushila Chanu Pukhrambam, Suman Devi Thokam, Gurjit Kaur
Midfielders: Nikki Pradhan, Namita Toppo, Monika, Lilima Minz, Neha Goyal
Forwards: Rani Rampal (Captain), Vandana Katariya, Lalremsiami, Sonika, Navneet Kaur, Navjot Kaur