VADODARA: After their triumph in the Asia Cup last November, India women’s hockey team continued that form with a 3-1 victory in the recently concluded South Korea tour. With the squad for the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games announced on Wednesday, the aura of hope increased with veteran goalkeeper Savita Punia back in the contingent after missing the Korea series.
Interestingly, Punia was sent by Hockey India to undergo a goalkeeping coaching course conducted by Asian Hockey Federation in Muscat. The training was held from March 12 and will end on 16. She was accompanied by another goalkeeping coach and former player Yogita Bali.
Since India is grouped in Pool A along with Malaysia, Wales, England and South Africa, this was seen as a move to equip herself to face the higher-ranked teams in Australia. Coach Harendra Singh sounded ecstatic.
“Savita is the finest goalkeeper India has ever produced and one of the best in the world. Having a world-class goalkeeper is always better especially when the team is playing attacking hockey and want to take more risks. Going to Oman and training there will definitely help her in the long run. Since it’s an important year for hockey, it will help her perform well and cut down shortcomings which she notices during this course.”
ndia’s execution of Plan A — scoring more goals with the more attacking style of play — was one of the positives from the South Korea series. The team scored nine goals in five matches.
“One good thing was that as we planned, we executed the attacking style of hockey in South Korea. This is required in the modern game. Going into that zone was really important to have an upper hand in the game. If you are scoring goals, every move will pose a threat to the opponent. The team should start punishing opponents’ errors and that’s how the team’s confidence will improve. That is exactly what they have done there and it has yielded results. Also, they were quick on the counter-attack,” he said.
Harendra also felt that taking an early lead and winning 3-1 in the fourth match also tested their character and intent.
With the likes of Vandana (Katariya), Navjot Kaur, Navneet Kaur coming good, India have found a balance going forward. Along with them, defender Gurjit Kaur too has been scoring goals of late.
With Neha Goyal, Poonam Rani and Monika, the side looks balanced with a good mix of young and experience.
Goalkeepers: Savita (vice-captain), Rajani Etimarpu
Defenders: Deepika, Sunita Lakra, Deep Grace Ekka, Gurjit Kaur, Sushila Chanu Pukhrambam;
Midfielders: Monika, Namita Toppo, Nikki Pradhan, Neha Goyal, Lilima Minz
Forwards: Rani (captain), Vandana Katariya, Lalremsiami, Navjot Kaur, Navneet Kaur, Poonam Rani.