Top five Indians to watch out for in Women’s Asian Champions Trophy
These players will be crucial for their team in the tournament.
The Women’s Asian Champions Trophy is well underway in Donghae, South Korea. The Indian women’s hockey team will look to win the title in the tournament which finishes on December 12. As defending champions, South Korea will be a major foe for the Indians.
Along with the previous edition’s runner-up India, China, Japan, Malaysia and Thailand are also participating in the tournament. This Women’s Asian Champions Trophy will also be a single pool tournament with the top two teams playing for the title match. For the uninitiated, the last Asian Champions Trophy in 2018 was also held at the same venue.
The Indian Eves failed to win the title in the previous edition but look like a strong contender to achieve success this time around. Moreover, they will also want to double their Women’s Asian Champions Trophy title. They won the last one five years back in 2016 in Singapore. Hockey India has assembled a promising team to make that possibility a reality.
The 18-member squad will see FIH goalkeeper of the year Savita leading the team. Experienced defender Deep Grace Ekka has been appointed as the vice-captain. Let’s take a look at the team and find out about the top players who will hope to swing things in India’s favour.
5. Deep Grace Ekka
Odisha’s Deep Grace Ekka will be holding the defence for India at the Women’s Asian Champions Trophy. She will lead her fellow defenders Nikki Pradhan, Udita and Gurjit Kaur in securing the backline. Ekka’s experience will definitely be a valuable asset for the team.
The Sports Authority of India (SAI) alumnus is one of the most experienced members of the squad. With more than 200 caps for her nation, she has also scored 13 goals for the team. Moreover, Ekka is a gold medal winner at the 2017 Asia Cup and a silver medallist at the 2018 Asian Games. Prior to this, she had won bronze at the 2014 Asian Games in Incheon. She also played at the Tokyo Olympics and will be invaluable for the team.
4. Neha Goyal
Despite coming from a family of limited means, Neha Goyal’s talent was unlimited. Hailing from Haryana, she grew up in a poverty-stricken household and her life was tough. But that didn’t stop her from being one of the leading hockey players of the country.
The skillful midfielder is definitely going to pose a threat to the opposition in the Women’s Asian Champions Trophy. Goyal made her debut for the senior team in 2014 in Glasgow and hasn’t looked back since. She was also a teammate of Ekka at the Asia Cup and Asian Games. She was also part of the team in the 2018 World Cup in London. With 83 matches under her belt, Neha is also a part of the experienced group of players in the team.
Goalkeeper Savita has been appointed the captain of the Indian team for the tournament. She is a well-known face of Indian hockey and a diligent player. Admired for her grit and courage in front of the nets, Savita is definitely a star. Her heroics have rescued India on multiple occasions.
She saved two crucial shots during the penalty shootout in Asia Cup, helping India win the bronze medal. Her sublime save against China in the 2017 Asia Cup final earned her the Goalkeeper of the Tournament award and for her team, a slot in the 2018 World Cup in London. Her amazing performances at the Hawke’s Bay Cup and Women’s Hockey World League definitely makes her a player to keep an eye on.
2. Gurjit Kaur
Drag-flick specialist Gurjit Kaur will be looking to redeem herself in Donghae. She was part of the squad at the 2018 Women’s Asian Champions Trophy and despite her best efforts, the team failed to win. Gurjit will be definitely looking to strive in this edition.
The 26-year-old has a lot of experience. She already has been involved in 95 matches for the senior team. Gurjit has represented her country at the Tokyo Olympics and Commonwealth Games. She became the third-highest scorer in the last Asia Cup with eight goals, a tournament which India subsequently won.
1. Vandana Kataria
After looking at the goalkeeper, the defenders and the midfielder, it’s time to check out the striker. India have one of the best among its ranks and its none other than Vandana Kataria. She has won multiple accolades over the last decade and scored 68 goals.
Her prowess on the field along with her unmatched speed and skill makes it easier for her to run past opposition defence. The 2014 India’s Player of the Year Awardee is also a proud bronze winner of the Junior World Cup in 2003. Moreover, she was the Player of the Tournament at the 2018 Asian Champions Trophy.
In addition, she has also returned from the Tokyo Olympics successfully this year. Vandana was the only Indian woman to score a hat-trick in the competition, along with producing the best Olympics result for her side till date with a fourth-placed finish. Her good form will definitely be a cause of concern for the opposition while also motivating other forwards like Navneet, Rajwinder and Mariana.
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