Women’s Champions Trophy: Sunita Lakra to captain India

The experienced defender is handed the responsibility in the absence of regular captain Rani Rampal.

Captain Sunita Lakra will be one of the key defensive players for the Indian team.   -  Shiv Kumar Pushpakar

Sunita Lakra will captain defending champion India at the women’s Asian Champions Trophy to be held in Donghae City, Korea, from May 13.

The experienced defender was handed the responsibility in the absence of regular captain Rani Rampal, who has been rested for the tourney. Goal-keeper Savita is chosen as Sunita’s deputy.

Read: Hockey India shuffles coaches, again

Deepika, Deep Grace Ekka, Suman Devi Thoudam and Gurjit Kaur, who doubles up as a drag-flicker, will form the core of defence while the midfield will feature Monika, Namita Toppo, Nikki Pradhan, Neha Goyal, Lilima Minz, Navjot Kaur and Udita. India’s forward-line will be led by Vandana Katariya, Lalremsiami, Navneet Kaur and Anupa Barla.

Impressive run

The team will be buoyed by its good showing at the recently-concluded Commonwealth Games; it qualified for the semifinals after 12 years at the Games, eventually finishing fourth. It wasn’t a one-off; in 2016, India had defeated China in the final to win the previous edition of the Asian Champions Trophy. India had followed this up with the 2017 Asia Cup title.

This year, the team begins its campaign against Japan on May 13.

Change again for Marijne

The Asian Champions Trophy is expected to be coach Sjoerd Marijne’s first assignment with the team following his return to the women’s camp after being in charge of the senior men’s side for eight months. Following a disastrous Commonwealth Games showing with the men, Marijne was on Tuesday forced to swap places with Harendra Singh by Hockey India.

Looking ahead to the upcoming assignment, Sunita said, “We were very disappointed after losing the semi-final in Commonwealth Games by a close margin to hosts Australia. We knew it was our best chance to make the medal round. But we have gained a lot of confidence and heart from these matches against tougher teams like England and Australia. While this team is of mostly experienced players, we also have talented youngsters who are eager to contribute to the team’s success and help us defend the title.”

Team
  • Goalkeepers: Savita, Swati.
  • Defenders: Deepika, Sunita Lakra (c), Deep Grace Ekka, Gurjit Kaur, Suman Devi Thoudam.
  • Midfielders: Monika, Namita Toppo, Nikki Pradhan, Neha Goyal, Lilima Minz, Navjot Kaur, Udita.
  • Forwards: Vandana Katariya, Lalremsiami, Navneet Kaur, Anupa Barla.