Rani Rampal to lead Indian women in HWL Semifinal

The tournament will be a qualifier for the 2018 Women’s World Cup.

Rani Rampal leads an 18-member India squad.   -  Prashant Nakwe

Striker Rani Rampal will lead an 18-member Indian women’s team at the Hockey World League Semifinal to begin on July 8 in Johannesburg.

Defender Sushila Chanu Pukhrambam has been named as vice-captain for the tournament. The team features an experienced line-up with Deep Grace Ekka, Sunita Lakra, Monika, Sushila and Gurjit Kaur forming a part of the defensive line.

The team has two goalkeepers - Savita and Rajani Etimarpu - while Ritu Rani, Lilima Minz, Navjot Kaur, Renuka Yadav, Nikki Pradhan and Namita Toppo are midfielders. Rani, Vandana Katariya, Preeti Dubey, Anupa Barla and Reena Khokhar are fowards.

Though India suffered a 5-0 loss to New Zealand in its recent tour of that country, it will aim for better results at the Hockey World League Semifinal, which also happens to be a qualifying tournament for the 2018 Women’s World Cup in London.

“While our first aim is to do well in the pool stage and against opponents like South Africa and Argentina, our big target is to qualify for the World Cup next year. Though the qualifying criteria is top five teams, since England are the hosts, our criteria will be to finish in top 6 to qualify for the World Cup,” said chief coach Sjoerd Marijne.

India is grouped in Pool B along with strong opponents Argentina, South Africa, Chile and U.S.A. The event will also see participation from Germany, England, Ireland, Japan and Poland. India will begin its campaign at the Hockey World League Semifinal against South Africa on July 8.

Squad

Goalkeepers: Savita, Rajani Etimarpu.

Defenders: Deep Grace Ekka, Sunita Lakra, Gurjit Kaur, Sushila Chanu Pukhrambam (vice-captain), Monika.

Midfielders: Renuka Yadav, Nikki Pradhan, Namita Toppo, Navjot Kaur, Ritu Rani, Lilima Minz.

Forwards: Reena Khokhar, Rani Rampal (captain), Vandana Katariya, Anupa Barla, Preeti Dubey.