New Delhi, Nov 18 (IANS) An 18-member Indian women’s hockey team left for Argentina on Wednesday for their final event of the year where they will play five matches in the South American nation from November 23 to 29.

The Neil Hawgood-coached team will start their tour by playing the Under-21 Argentina team on November 23 before playing the Argentine senior team on November 24 and 25. They will again take on the junior Argentine girls on November 26 before facing Australia in a one-off match on November 29. “The girls are now more confident and enthusiastic to play with top hockey teams. It will be an excellent platform to explore the strengths of players and further examine and shortlist the team for Rio Olympics,” Hawgood said. “It is an exploratory trip to see where we currently stand and what are the areas that we need to work upon to enhance our performance as per international standards.”

The Indian squad will be led by the experienced Ritu Rani with Deepika Thakur as the second-in-command. The Indian goalpost will be guarded by Savita and Rajani Etimarpu while the defence line will see vice-captain Deepika alongside Sunita Lakra, Sushila Chanu Pukhrambam, Jaspreet Kaur and Deep Grace Ekka.

 

The midfield will have the captain with Renuka Yadav, Lilima Minz, Navjot Kaur, Monika and Namita Toppo. Navneet Kaur, Preeti Dubey, Poonam Rani, Vandana Katariya and Anuradha Devi Thokchom will complete the forward line. “We are aware about the nation’s expectations from us since we have qualified for the Olympics. We have been training hard and such international trips will only help us understand the results of our hard work before we represent our country in the Olympics next year. We are happy to have the best coaching facility and feel confident about our preparation,” said Ritu.

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