A confident and upbeat Indian Women’s Hockey Team led by defender Sunita Lakra left for the 5th Women’s Asian Champions Trophy from Indira Gandhi International Airport, here on Tuesday.
The prestigious event which will begin in Donghae City, Korea on May 13 and will see India, Japan, China, Malaysia and hosts Korea vie for top honours.
In 2016, the Indian Team won their maiden Asian Champions Trophy title when they beat rivals China 2-1 in a tense Final encounter. It was Deepika who had scored the winning goal in the 60th minute.
This time too, the team riding on the Asia Cup success will be eyeing the title for the second time. “After having won the title in 2016 followed by the Asia Cup victory in 2017, we want to make this yet another memorable event,” stated the 27-year-old experienced defender Sunita Lakra from Sundargarh district, Odisha.
India will begin their campaign against Japan on the opening day and Sunita hopes the team will reflect the confidence they played with at the recently held XXI Commonwealth Games where the team finished fourth.
“Though we believe we could have returned home with a medal, we did well against teams like Australia and England. We will be carrying this confidence into the Asian Champions Trophy which will help us understand where we stand ahead of the much-important Asian Games in Jakarta,” Lakra added.
The team will be missing the experience of Captain Rani, forward Poonam Rani and defender Sushila Chanu who have been rested but Lakra believes this won’t deter the team’s target of defending the title. “Yes, they will be missed but the team is a good mix of experience and youth.
The younger players have had good international exposure over the past year and have played together for a while. We understand each other’s strengths and weaknesses, and this is also a good platform for youngsters to show their game ahead of the World Cup and Asian Games. The team has had good preparations in SAI, Bengaluru over the past three weeks and we are confident of a good show,” Lakra said.