Sep 19, 2012

Indian team for Women's Champions Challenge-1

Indian women's team new chief coach Neil Hawgood has a tough task on his hand as he guides the Indian team to Champions Challenge-1 starting September 29 in Dublin (Ireland). Neil Hawgood who is first foreign coach of women team is joined by exercise physiologist Dr Ben Dascombe in the quest to win Champions Challenge and qualify for next year's Champions Trophy. The Indian team for Champions Challenge-1 will be led by midfielder Ritu Rani and defender Kirandeep Kaur will be her deputy for the tournament.

Ritu Rani to captain Indian side in CC-1
Ritu Rani is quite confident of India's performance promised good performance in the tournament. She said - "We have worked very hard during the camp in Bhopal under the supervision of coach Hawgood and Exercise Physiologist Dr Ben Dascombe. We are confident we will compete hard and do our best against quality oppositions."

Coach Neil Hawgood is also upbeat about the tournament and he aims the team will play will stick a balance in defense and attack. Coach Hawgood- "I have shared my vision of enhancing an already attractive style of hockey that will balance out the attacking ability, and that is naturally within this group and to have a defensive side of the game that is as well respected as our attacking side."

There are few changes in the side from the team that played in Olympics Qualifiers.Former captain Asunta Lakra was dropped from the side due to an injury. Also missing is India's best player Rani Rampal who has suffered a knee injury (with very little chance of recovery). Deepika Thakur who performed really well in the Olympics Qualifiers also finds herself out of the side which is going to play in Champions Challenge.

The Indian team for the tournament has a healthy mix of youth and experienced players with the team includes 7 players from the team which has won silver medal in recently held Junior Women’s Asia Cup and has the ability to surprise the opponents by playing good attacking hockey.

Indian team for Champions Challenge-1

Goalkeepers: Yogita Bali & Savita Poonia

Defenders: Jaspreet Kaur, Sushila Chanu, Kirandeep Kaur (V-C), Deep Grace Ekka, Deepika & Joydeep Kaur.

Midfielders: Ritu Rani (C), Vandana Katariya, Monika Malik, Chanchan Devi, Poonam Rani & MN Ponnamma.

Forwards: Roselin Dung Dung, Soundarya Yendala, Lily Chanu & Anupa Barla.

Other teams participating in the tournament are Australia, Belgium, Scotland, South Africa, Spain, United States of America and host Ireland.

South Africa, Belgium and the USA finished 10th, 11th and 12th in the Olympics. India are ranked World No. 12 and are ahead of Spain (13), Belgium (14), Ireland (15) and Scotland (19).

The winner of Champions Challenge will join Argentina, England, Netherlands, Germany and Japan in the Women's Hockey Champions Trophy.

Apart from the winner of the tournament, two others teams will be invited to play in the Champions Trophy next year.

India is placed in Group A of the tournament along with Australia, Belgium and Wales.

Following is India's schedule of Women's Champions Challenge in the group stage

29th Sep- India vs Wales
30th Sep- India vs Australia
2nd Oct - India vs Belgium

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