Rajendra Prasad Mohapatra

Experienced defender Deep Grace Ekka of Odisha has been appointed as the vice-captain of the 18-member Indian team announced by Hockey India on Wednesday for the forthcoming Women’s Hockey Asia Cup. The mega tournament will be held in Muscat from January 21 to 28.

Experienced goalkeeper Savita will lead the team in regular skipper Rani Rampal’s absence.
The 18-member Indian team for the tournament, to be played at the Sultan Qaboos Sports Complex in Muscat, looks formidable with 16 players from the side that was part of the historic fourth-place finish at the Tokyo Olympic Games 2020.

Defending champions India will battle it out against China, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore, South Korea and Thailand for the title. The top-four teams from this tournament will qualify for the 2022 FIH Women’s Hockey World Cup to be held in Spain and the Netherlands.

India are grouped in Pool A along with Japan, Malaysia and Singapore. They will begin their campaign on the opening day against Malaysia and will play Japan on January 23. India will take on Singapore in their last pool match on January 24. The semifinals will be played on January 26 and the final match on January 28.

 “This is a very important tournament for us and I am happy with the team we have chosen which is a mix of some very experienced players along with talented youngsters who have shown great potential at the international level. Though we were a bit disappointed with how things panned out for us at the Asian Champions Trophy, we were able to return to camp in SAI, Bengaluru and put in some good sessions of hockey to prepare well for this challenge,” said chief coach Janneke Schopman.

In the previous edition held in 2017, India edged out China 5-4 in a tense shootout to lift the trophy.

The squad: Goalkeepers: Savita (Captain), Rajani Etimarpu; Defenders: Deep Grace Ekka (Vice-Captain), Gurjit Kaur, Nikki Pradhan, Udita; Midfielders: Nisha, Sushila Chanu Pukhrambam, Monika, Neha, Salima Tete, Jyoti, Navjot Kaur; Forwards: Navneet Kaur, Lalremsiami, Vandana Katariya, Mariana Kujur, Sharmila Devi; Replacement Athletes: Deepika (Junior), Ishika Chaudhary.

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