New Delhi: The Indian women’s hockey team will participate in next month’s FIH Women’s World Cup 2022 without talismanic striker Rani Rampal as the former skipper is still undergoing rehabilitation for a hamstring injury.
There were reports recently that Rani has recovered from her injury and had travelled with the squad to Rotterdam for the last round of FIH Pro League matches. However, on Tuesday chief coach Janneke Schopman said she is still undergoing rehabilitation for the injury.
In her absence, goalkeeper Savita will continue to lead the 18-member squad with defender Deep Grace Ekka as her deputy. Savita led the Indian team in the FIH Pro League matches this year and the team had done well, presently in the third position in the event.
Hockey India on Tuesday named the 18-member Indian women’s hockey team for the FIH Women’s Hockey World Cup to be held in Netherlands and Spain from July 1-17, retaining the majority of players that had figured in last year’s Tokyo Olympic Games in which the Indian team narrowly missed a bronze medal.
India placed in Pool B along with England, New Zealand and China will begin their campaign on July 3 against old nemesis England, to whom they lost the bronze medal match in Tokyo.
The 20-member squad, including two replacement players as per Covid protocols, also includes defenders Gurjit Kaur, Nikki Pradhan, Udita and midfielders Nisha, Sushila Chanu, Monika, Neha, Navjot Kaur, who all were part of the Olympics squad.
The forward line features the very experienced Vandana Katariya, Lalremsiami, Navneet Kaur, and Sharmila Devi. The selectors have picked talented young stars Akshata Dhekale and Sangita Kumari as replacement players.
In the previous edition of the prestigious quadrennial event held in London, the Indian team reached the quarterfinals but lost to Ireland in a shootout after a 0-0 stalemate in regulation time. Ireland, who ousted India 3-1 in the shootout, went on to play the final of the World Cup, eventually ending with a silver medal.
Speaking about the team selection, chief coach Janneke Schopman said, “We have chosen the best squad for the World Cup. It is a mix of experience and young talent who have shown great promise when they were given a chance against top teams in the FIH Pro League.”
“Except Rani, who is still not fully recovered from injury rehabilitation, the team has all the players who were part of the Olympic campaign with inclusions like Jyoti and Sonika who have done well in their roles when given a chance. We will also have Sangita and Akshata who will travel with the team as replacement players,” Jenneke was quoted as saying in a release by Hockey India.
“The team is absolutely excited and eager to begin its World Cup campaign and we will utilize the next ten days to finetune our game basis analysis from Pro League performances,” she added.
The Indian team will play its group-stage matches in Amstelveen, Netherlands and if they top the group, they will play the quarter-final too in Amstelveen. The semifinals and final will be played in Terrassa, Spain. The crossover matches for pool B will be played in Spain.
Indian Women’s Team for FIH Women’s World Cup:
Goalkeepers: Savita (captain), Bichu Devi Kharibam; Defenders: Deep Grace Ekka (vice-captain), Gurjit Kaur, Nikki Pradhan, Udita; Midfielders: Nisha, Sushila Chanu Pukhrambam, Monika, Neha, Jyoti, Navjot Kaur, Sonika, Salima Tete; Forwards: Vandana Katariya, Lalremsiami, Navneet Kaur, Sharmila Devi.
Replacement Players: Akshata Abaso Dhekale, Sangita Kumari.