A year before the Tokyo Olympic Games in 2020, the organisers are holding Test events in hockey, both for men and women, In both sections, India has been invited to participate in what used to be called earlier pre-Olympic hockey event.
In women’s section, Haryana’s mercurial forward Rani Rampal has been given the responsibility to lead India while goalkeeper Savita will be her deputy.
While naming the 18-member Indian team, Hockey India has put its stakes on youngsters Sharmila Devi and Reena Khokhar.
Under Chief Coach Sjoerd Marijne, the composition of the team has remained similar to the one which participated at the FIH Women’s Series Finals Hiroshima 2019, with the Dutchman having opted for only two changes in the 18-member team selected for the Tokyo Olympics 2020 Test Event. Youngsters Sharmila Devi and Reena Khokhar have come into the team, with Sunita Lakra and Jyoti giving way. Khokhar had been sidelined due to injury but makes a comeback into the side after recovering successfully, while Sharmila Devi will be expecting to make her debut for the national side.
The Indian team, currently ranked No. 10 in the FIH Rankings, will be facing tough challenges as they will be up against the likes of World No. 2 Australia, World No. 11 China and hosts Japan who are currently ranked 14th in the FIH Rankings.
The team consists of experienced goalkeepers Savita and Rajani Etimarpu, who will look to guard India’s goalpost, while defenders Deep Grace Ekka, Reena Khokhar, Gurjit Kaur, Salima Tete, and Nisha have also been included in the 18-member team. Midfielders Sushila Chanu Pukhrambam, Nikki Pradhan, Monika, Lilima Minz and Neha Goyal will look to command the midfield. Rani, Navneet Kaur, Vandana Katariya, Lalremsiami, Navjot Kaur and Sharmila Devi are the Forwards who have been picked in the team.
“We are looking forward to playing three top countries at the Tokyo Olympics 2020 Test Event as I rate them all highly. We have selected a squad of 18 players where only 16 players will be allowed to play in accordance to the Olympic standards. I will be very interested to see how we fare against these countries, and what we need to improve for the FIH Olympic Qualifiers because everything that we do, will be focused on that. We will be learning good lessons in this tour regardless of whatever happens,” said Chief Coach Sjoerd Marijne looking ahead to the event.