Donghae: Ahead of the Indian women’s hockey team’s campaign in the Asian Champions Trophy against Thailand on December 5, captain and goalkeeper Savita said that the side’s focus was on making a good start, especially since the group would be playing its first competitive game after the Tokyo Olympics.Also Read - Hockey: France Join Men's Pro League, To Start Campaign Against India on Feb 8
The tournament, scheduled to be held from December 5-12, will see India up against China, South Korea, Japan, Thailand and Malaysia in the single-pool competition. Also Read - 16 Senior Men's Hockey Players Among 33 Positive Cases in SAI Bengaluru
“The team’s focus right now is to make a good start. This is our first international outing after the Olympics and playing the first match will always create some butterflies in the stomach. But we have prepared well and we are geared up for the challenge,” said Savita, who is leading the team here in the absence of Rani Rampal. Also Read - Women's Asia Cup: Experience And Camaraderie The Key, Says Hockey Goalkeeper Savita
In their second match on December 6, India will play Malaysia, who they had beaten 3-2 in the previous edition. Malaysia had subsequently finished fourth in the previous edition held in the same city as they had lost to China in the third/fourth placing match.
India will take on hosts and defending champions Korea in their third match on December 8. In the previous edition, Indian had lost 0-1 in the final to the hosts and in the round-robin league India had held Korea to a 1-1 draw.
“We are looking forward to a tough challenge from hosts Korea and surely we cannot underestimate China or Japan who are Asian Games gold medallists. After arriving in Donghae, we went through some good practice sessions on the pitch here to get acclimatised. It is a beautiful facility but the weather is quite cold and getting used to this could be a bit of a challenge initially,” Savita opined.
Savita also highlighted the importance of this tournament ahead of a busy 2022 schedule, where they will defend the Asia Cup and also vie for the top spot in the Asian Games to ensure they book a berth for the Paris Olympics.
“Winning matches always instils a sense of confidence and for this tour, we have some youngsters who will be playing at this level for the first time. We are looking forward to a good tournament and everyone is eager to get started,” she said.
India play China on December 9 and Japan on December 11. In the previous edition, India got the better of both these teams as they had beaten China 3-1 and won against Japan 4-1 in the league stage.
The final will take place on December 12 between the topper of the pool and the team that finishes second in the pool.