Sangita, Salima and Nikki express gratitude to home fans for strong support in Women’s Asian Champions Trophy 2023

With goals from Jharkhand’s Sangita Kumari, Neha, Lalremsiami and Vandana Katariya, India grabbed the Women’s Asian Champions Trophy title for the second time, with their previous title win coming in 2016.

Published : Nov 09, 2023 15:25 IST , New Delhi - 4 MINS READ

Sangita Kumari in action.
Sangita Kumari in action. | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Sangita Kumari in action. | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

The Indian women’s hockey team on Sunday lifted the spirits of the jam-packed Ranchi crowd at the Marang Gomke Jaipal Singh Astro Turf Hockey Stadium after they defeated Japan 4-0 in the final to claim the gold medal in the Women’s Asian Champions Trophy 2023.

With goals from Jharkhand’s Sangita Kumari, Neha, Lalremsiami and Vandana Katariya, India grabbed the prestigious title for the second time, with their previous title win coming in 2016.

Scoring a goal in the final of the tournament in front of home fans was an unforgettable moment for Sangita Kumari, who described it as one of the best moments of her career.

“I am grateful for the support staff, my teammates and coaches for trusting me and I am proud I was able to repay their faith. In a final, it is always important to get an early goal and I am glad I was able to deliver for the team,” Sangita said.

Sangita Kumari, the highest goal scorer for India with six goals in the tournament, also won the Rising Star of the Tournament Award. “This has been one of the best moments of my career. More than anything, I am just elated. I was able to contribute to our team’s win and I hope to continue in the same vein of form in the future,” Sangita added.

India had a dominant run in the tournament, going undefeated throughout and winning the trophy. The hosts India began the tournament with a 7-1 victory over Thailand, followed by a 5-0 victory over Malaysia. India demonstrated its attacking and defensive prowess with 2-1 victories over China and Japan. India finished the round-robin stage on top of the table with 15 points after defeating Korea 5-0. India advanced to the semifinals by defeating Korea 2-0 to secure its place in the final.

Another star performer for the Indian team during the tournament was Jharkhand’s Salima Tete, who was presented with the Player of the Tournament Award for her performance. Salima not only scored five goals in the tournament but also created crucial opportunities for India inside the circle.

“It was an honour to perform in front of the home fans in an international tournament for the first time. A lot of friends and family were able to see me compete at the stadium, which really boosted my confidence and gave me strength to perform to the best of my abilities,” Salima said.

In recognition of their exceptional title-winning performance, Hockey India announced a reward of Rs 3 Lakhs for each member of the team and Rs 1.5 Lakhs for each member of the support staff. 

“It was great to see the massive support from Ranchi fans for hockey during the tournament, who made their voices heard every time we stepped out on the field. Playing in front of home fans will be a memory that will remain with me for a lifetime,” Salima added.

The team will now return to Ranchi at the Women’s FIH Hockey Olympic Qualifiers scheduled to be held at Marang Gomke Jaipal Singh AstroTurf Hockey Stadium in Ranchi, Jharkhand from 13th January 2024 to 21st January 2024.

Veteran Indian defender Nikki Pradhan, who also hails from Jharkhand, believes India would have an advantage going into the tournament, having already played at the stadium.

“It was great to see Ranchi fans being so loud and packing the stadium in numbers to cheer for us and we are thankful for their support. We have already played so many tight games here in this tournament and hence, now we are aware of the conditions, the turf, and the atmosphere. This would give us an advantage heading into the all-important Olympics Qualifiers in January,” Nikki said.

Eight teams will compete at the FIH Qualifiers in Ranchi with India being placed in Pool B along with New Zealand, United States, and Italy. Germany, Japan, Chile, and the Czech Republic form Pool A.

“We know there are some strong teams that will be competing alongside us. Our aim is to continue our dominance and get positive results. Having already played here, we know what to expect and we will work on the areas where we feel we need to improve before the FIH Olympics Qualifiers,” Nikki signed off.

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