India women’s hockey team gears up for Asian Champions Trophy
Putting behind the disappointment in the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games, the Indian women’s team led by defender Sunita Lakra on Tuesday left for the 5th Asian Champions Trophy to be held at Donghae City in South Korea from May 13.
Besides India and hosts South Korea, Japan, China and Malaysia will vie for top honours.
In 2016, the Indian team won their maiden Asian Champions Trophy title when they beat China 2-1 in a tense final.
It was Deepika who had scored the winning goal in the 60th minute. This time too, the team riding on the Asia Cup success will be eyeing the title for the second time.
“After having won the title in 2016 followed by the Asia Cup victory in 2017, we want to make this yet another memorable event,” stated the 27-year-old experienced defender Sunita Lakra from Odisha.
India will begin their campaign against Japan on the opening day and Sunita hopes the team will reflect the confidence they played with at Gold Coast where the team finished fourth.
“Though we believe we could have returned home with a medal, we did well against teams like Australia and England. We will be carrying this confidence into the Asian Champions Trophy which will help us understand where we stand ahead of the much-important Asian Games in Jakarta,” Lakra added.
The team will be missing the experience of captain Rani Rampal, forward Poonam Rani and defender Sushila Chanu who have been rested but Lakra believes this won’t deter the team’s target of defending the title.
“Yes, they will be missed but the team is a good mix of experience and youth. The younger players have had good international exposure over the past year and have played together for a while,” Lakra said.
“We understand each other’s strengths and weaknesses, and this is also a good platform for youngsters to show their game ahead of the World Cup and Asian Games.
“The team has had good preparations in SAI, Bengaluru over the past three weeks and we are confident of a good show,” she added.