Seasoned goalkeeper Savita was on Monday named captain of the 22-member Indian team, which is set to make its debut at the FIH Women’s Hockey Pro League tie against Spain in Bhubaneswar this month.
In the absence of Rani Rampal, who is still recovering from an injury in Bengaluru, Savita will continue to lead the side, while defender Deep Grace Ekka will be her deputy in the two-leg tie against Spain on February 26 and 27.
Under the leadership of Savita, the Indian women finished third in the Asia Cup in Muscat, Oman last month. The 22-member squad will have a new face in young Jharkhand forward Sangita Kumari, who will make her debut next weekend. The team has three goalkeepers in Savita, Rajani Etimarpu and Bichu Devi Khairbam, who is an addition to the squad. Four players have been added to the Indian team from the Asia Cup squad.
Besides Bichu Devi, other three additional players are defender Ishika Chaudhary, midfielder Namita Toppo, striker duo of Sangita and Rajwinder Kaur.
Hockey India selectors also named five stand-by players — Rashmita Minz, Akshata Abaso Dhekale, Sonika, Mariana Kujur and Aishwarya Rajesh Chauvan — for the double-header. Commenting on the team, chief coach Janneke Schopman said: ”We are excited to kick off our home Pro League games vs Spain. We had two good training weeks after our return from Oman and I believe the selected 22 players will be ready to show what they can against Spain. ”When you have a strong pool of players, team selection always becomes difficult but I am happy to see that the new players are improving a lot and showing a lot of promise.” Schopman said India will have to be on their toes to get the better of Spain in their FIH Pro League opening tie.
”Spain is a strong opponent, they have consistently performed at a high level only narrowly missing out on the semi-finals in Tokyo and clinching the bronze medal in the last World Cup. ”They are very skilful and play from a tight defence, so we are looking to use our own speed and skills and strong defence to compete well against them.” Team: Goalkeepers: Savita (Captain), Bichu Devi Kharibam, Rajani Etimarpu. Defenders: Deep Grace Ekka (Vice-captain), Gurjit Kaur, Nikki Pradhan, Udita, Ishika Chaudhary. Midfielders: Nisha, Salima Tete, Sushila Chanu Pukhrambam, Jyoti, Monika, Neha, Navjot Kaur, Namita Toppo. Forwards: Vandana Katariya, Sharmila Devi, Navneet Kaur, Lalremsiami, Sangita Kumari, Rajwinder Kaur.
Standbys: Rashmita Minz, Akshata Abaso Dhekale, Sonika, Mariana Kujur, Aishwarya Rajesh Chavan.