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With youngsters around, there is aggression in team

india Updated: Jun 12, 2011 00:08 IST
Saurabh Duggal
Saurabh Duggal
Hindustan Times
Saurabh Duggal

Their dismal performance in the Commonwealth and Asian Games notwithstanding, the women's hockey team is keen to prove a point under new chief coach, CR Kumar, in the Champions Challenge Cup-I to be held in Dublin, Ireland, from June 18.

The winner of the tournament will qualify for the prestigious Champions Trophy 2012, for which India has never qualified before.

"2010 was not a good year for women's hockey. We lost some crucial matches because of which we missed the podium in the Commonwealth and Asian Games. We want to forget the past and make a fresh start.

"With a bit of luck, we hope to qualify for the Champions Trophy," said the team's new captain, Saba Anjum, who was part of the historic 2002 Manchester Commonwealth Games winning squad.

Kumar, who is on his maiden assignment after taking charge of the team, is optimistic and says he is not under any pressure with regard to the outcome of the tournament.

"I have seen women's hockey from close quarters and am quite confident the girls will do well… I am not feeling any pressure whatsoever.

"Having said that, the event is very important for us and will help the team shape up for the Olympic qualifier next year," said Kumar, who has also worked with the junior boys and the Malaysian women's team.

"The camp started on April 1 and the girls have undergone strenuous training, so things look pretty good," he added.

The skipper of the team during the CWG and Asian Games, Surinder Kaur, and stalwart Subhadra Pradhan had opted out of the camp because of personal reasons, while two other seniors, Deepika Murthy and Mamta Kharab, were not included. So, has it had an impact on the team composition?

"There are a lot of youngsters who have brought aggression to the squad. Besides, there are still quite a few experienced players. So, the composition of the team is perfect," said Kumar.

"Jaspreet Kaur, the baby of the team, is doing well and fast emerging as a potent drag-flicker. Besides, we have worked on many penalty-corner variations."