Indian women to face Thailand in Asian Champions Trophy opener
Goalkeeper Savita will lead the team in the prestigious continental event starting from 5 December.
The Indian women’s hockey team will begin their campaign at the Asian Champions Trophy in Donghae, Korea with an opening tie against Thailand. The Tournament is slated to be held between 5 – 12 December 2021 will see India up against China, Korea, Japan, Thailand and Malaysia in the single-pool competition.
“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,” expressed India’s ace goalkeeper Savita who is leading the team for this tournament.
In their second match on 6 December, India plays 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 8 December. In the previous edition, the Indian side had lost 0-1 in a closely fought final to the hosts and earlier 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 medalists. After arriving in Donghae, we went through some good practice sessions on the pitch here to get acclimatized. It is a beautiful facility they have here and we are not new to the conditions in this pitch, however, the weather is quite cold and getting used to this could be a bit of a challenge initially,” she opined.
Savita also highlighted the importance of this tournament ahead of a busy schedule in 2022 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 plays China on 9 December and Japan on 11 December. 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 12 December between the topper of the pool and the team that finished second in the pool.