Bracing up for the World Cup in Chile, the Indian junior women’s hockey team will be training and playing practice matches in neighbouring Argentina to get acclimatised to the conditions, head coach Tushar Khandker said on Thursday. The tournament is scheduled to be held from November 29 to December 10 in Santiago, and Hockey India has named its squad. “We will have our training and practice matches in Argentina before heading to Chile, so that will help us in acclimatising to the conditions and setting the tempo for the Junior World Cup,” Khandker said.
India are grouped along with Germany, Belgium and Canada in Pool C. They will begin their campaign against Canada on November 29 before taking on the European sides Germany and Belgium on November 30 and December 2 respectively in their Pool C matches.
The other teams in the fray are the Netherlands, South Africa, Australia and Chile in Pool A while Argentina, Spain, Zimbabwe and Korea are grouped in Pool B. In Pool D, England, the USA, New Zealand and Japan will vie for a place in the quarterfinals.
Speaking about the team selection, Khandker, said, “We have an incredible talent pool, it wasn’t easy to select the final squad.
“But I believe we have chosen the best one for the World Cup and these players have worked very hard in the past couple of months leading up to the event.
“The players are excited, they have performed really well in the recent past and it’s a wonderful opportunity for them to showcase their talent on the prestigious platform.” The squad includes goalkeepers Khushboo and Madhuri Kindo. Defenders Neelam, Preeti, Jyoti Singh and Ropni Kumari have been named in the squad along with midfielders Mahima Tete, Manju Chorsiya, Jyoti Chhatri, Hina Bano, Sujata Kujur and Rutaja Dadaso Pisal.
The forward line features Sakshi Rana, Mumtaz Khan, Annu, Deepika Soreng, Dipi Monika Toppo and Sunelita Toppo, while defender Thounaojam Nirupama Devi and midfielder Jyothi Edula have been named as replacement players for the marquee event.
In the previous edition, India had narrowly missed the bronze medal, finishing fourth. For the upcoming edition, the Indian Junior team will be captained by Preeti with Rutuja Dadaso Pisal being her deputy.
The quarterfinals are scheduled for December 6 and semifinals on December 8 while the final will be played on December 10.
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