Experienced goalkeeper Savita will lead India at the upcoming women's Asia Cup in Muscat as Hockey India on Wednesday named a strong 18-member squad for the event, including 16 players that featured at the Tokyo Olympics. Since regular skipper Rani Rampal is recovering from an injury in Bengaluru, Savita will lead the side in the tournament, which is scheduled to be held between January 21-28 at the Sultan Qaboos Sports Complex.
India have been placed in Pool A along with Japan, Malaysia and Singapore. They will open their title defence against Malaysia on the opening day. They will next take on Japan (Jan 23) and Singapore (Jan 24). The semifinals will be played on January 26 and the final on January 28. The top four-teams will qualify for the 2022 World Cup, to be held in Spain and Netherlands. Experienced defender Deep Grace Ekka will be Savita's deputy.
The team includes goalkeeper Rajani Etimarpu and defenders Gurjit Kaur, Nikki Pradhan, and Udita. The midfield includes Nisha, Sushila Chanu Pukhrambam, Monika, Neha, Salima Tete, Jyoti and Navjot Kaur while the forwardline will see Navneet Kaur, Lalremsiami, Vandana Katariya, Mariana Kujur and Sharmila Devi. The team also has Deepika (Junior) and Ishika Chaudhary as replacement athletes.
"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," chief coach Janneke Schopman said.
"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." In the previous edition held in 2017, India beat China 5-4 in a tense shootout to lift the title.
Indian women's team:
Goalkeepers: Savita (C), Rajani Etimarpu.
Defenders: Deep Grace Ekka (VC), Gurjit Kaur, Nikki Pradhan, Udita
Midfielders: Nisha, Sushila Chanu, Monika, Neha, Salima Tete, Jyoti, Navjot Kaur.
Forwards: Navneet Kaur, Lalremsiami, Vandana Katariya, Mariana Kujur, Sharmila Devi.