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Rio Olympics 2016: Indian Hockey eves depart for USA for their final practice games

The three scheduled games against Canada and two against hosts USA will benefit the Indian players.

Indian women hockey
Players of the 16-member women’s squad pose with head coach Neil Hawgood before leaving for the Unites States

The Indian Women’s Hockey team, on Thursday, has departed for the United States of America to play their last set of practice matches before their Olympic campaign kicks off in Rio de Janeiro, next month.

With the final sixteen selected members being announced by Hockey India earlier this week, the Women’s team now has an opportunity to tie up any loose ends that might be there within their ranks. The three scheduled games against Canada and two against hosts USA will benefit the players in tweaking their collective shape to fit the highest level of competition when they return to the Olympic stage at Rio after an extensive gap of 36 years.

Also Read: Rio Olympics 2016: The ridiculous exclusion of Indian women's hockey captain Ritu Rani

Although Canada will not be featuring in the coming edition of Olympic hockey, the preparatory games versus the nation will serve as a stepping stone for India’s current ambitions, with the newly instated captain Sushila Chanu at the helm in place of veteran halfback Ritu Rani who was unceremoniously dropped from the side merely a couple of days before the official teams were to be declared.

The 24-year-old Manipuri defender will also get to lead India against the US in two games which will hold some added significance for the side since the American team are in the same group as India i.e. Pool B in the Olympic event this year.

Coach Neil Hawgood has already expressed his optimism regarding the achievable targets by the current women’s unit at the Rio Games. To keep their morale high, it’s imperative that the Blueskirts have a good showing at their American outing following which they will head straight to the Olympic venue where they will finally touch down on the 29th of July.

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