Buenos Aires, Nov 23 (IANS) The Indian women’s hockey team is all set to start their Argentina tour against the hosts’ Under-21 side here on Tuesday, with an eye to strong preparations for the Olympics. Under the guidance of chief coach Neil Hawgood, this would be the first international exposure for the Indian eves post their historic qualification for the Rio Olympics next year. The match will be setting off the tour which includes matches against Australia and Argentina from November 23 to 29. The 18-member India squad will be led by experienced campaigner Ritu Rani.
The second in command will be Deepika Thakur. The Indian goalpost will be guarded by Savita and Rajani Etimarpu. The defence line will see vice-captain Deepika alongside Sunita Lakra, P. Sushila Chanu, Jaspreet Kaur and Deep Grace Ekka. The midfield will have captain Ritu 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 for the team. “The girls have been working hard and our game tomorrow will be critical to help us understand the areas which still needs attention. The good part is that we have been training hard for the last one month and the team is full of confidence,” India chief coach Hawgood said in a release. “We have an experienced captain and the girls have been together for quite some time which is a huge advantage for us. The qualifications for the Olympics have been a boost and we will be playing in similar conditions to that of Rio which will only prepare us for the future,” the Australian added.
The Indian Women’s team has been on a high this year winning the second round of the Hockey World League (HWL) earlier this year which was held in Delhi. The team gained the fifth position in the HWL Semi Final by the virtue of which they qualified for the Rio Olympics for the first time in 36 years.