Defender Sushila returns to women's hockey squad for Asia Cup
AGENCIES NEW DELHI, 16th Oct: Ace defender Sushila Chanu Pukhrambam made her comeback after recovering from a knee injury as she was on Monday named in the Indian women's hockey squad for the ninth Women's Asia Cup which starts from October 28 in Kakamigahara City, Japan.
Sushila underwent a surgical procedure to repair ligament damage to the knee. Later she was part of the national camp for the Asia Cup. Also making a comeback were forwards Navneet Kaur, Navjot Kaur and Sonika after not being part of the squad for the Europe Tour of Netherlands and Belgium last month.
Among the big names missing out on the list is former captain and midfielder Ritu Rani. The team will be captained by striker Rani Rampal, while goalkeeper Savita will be vice-captain.
Apart from Sushila, defensive duties will be given to Deep Grace Ekka, Sunita Lakra, Suman Devi Thoudam and Gurjit Kaur. The midfield will feature Namita Toppo, Nikki Pradhan, Monika, Lilima Minz and Neha Goyal. Rani, Vandana Katariya and Lalremsiami will feature in the forward line.
India have been placed in Pool A alongside China, Malaysia and Singapore. This tournament will be the first assignment of new head coach Harendra Singh as he looks towards a strong performance in Japan with qualification for next year's Hockey Women's World Cup London 2018 being his top priority.
"We have a very good blend of youth and experience within our team which will help us in negating the tasks ahead of us at the Women's Asia Cup. The team has played against higher ranked teams in the build-up to the tournament which has helped us in improving our game.
"We have made several minor adjustments and improvements in our game so that we don't repeat unforced errors in our play. We will be aiming to win the Women's Asia Cup 2017 in order to qualify for next year's World Cup," said Harendra.
Meanwhile Captain Rani is confident that the team can perform well at the Women's Asia Cup. She said, "We have made improvements in our game wherever it was necessary. I feel the team is playing well as a unit and there is a good sense of cohesion in our squad.
"We are looking forward to performing well in Japan so that we can qualify for the World Cup." Ahead of their departure for Japan, the squad will continue to train at the Sports Authority of India (SAI) centre in Bengaluru until October 23.