Indian women take on Russia in the first match

April 18th, 2008 - 9:48 pm ICT by admin  

Kazan (Russia), April 18 (IANS) Indian women’s quest for an Olympic hockey berth begins here against hosts Russia in the qualifying tournament Saturday. The only time the women’s hockey team qualified for the Olympic was way back in 1980 in Moscow when the entire west bloc nations had boycotted the Games. Hockey fans look up to the women’s team to make it to the Olympics as the men’s team had failed to qualify for the Beijing Games.

Led by forward Mamta Kharb, the team has done well in the recent past, but what will go against them is the lack of big match practice as they hardly had any international exposure in the run-up to the qualifiers.

The team went through the paces in Lucknow in a month-long camp under the supervision of Maharaj Krishan Kaushika and then inputs from technical adviser Ric Charlesworth.

The Indian eves will also have to acclimatise with the chilly weather conditions of Kazan, which is as low as 8 degrees Celsius.

India will face Russia, Belgium, France, the Netherlands, Antilles, Russia and the US in the nine-day tournament, which is the last qualifier for the Beijing Games.

The winners of the tournament will join the nine nations — defending champions Germany, silver medallist the Netherlands, bronze medallist Argentina, Australia, China, Great Britain, Japan, New Zealand and South Africa — in Beijing.

Indian squad: Mamta Kharb (captain), Saba Anjum, Surinder Kaur, Jasjeet Kaur, Ritu Rani, Deepika Thakur, Adline Kerketta, Rani Devi and Pritam Rani Siwach
Binita Toppo, Suman Bala (vice-captain), Rajwinder Kaur and Pushpa Pradhan
Subhadra Pradhan, Gagandeep Kaur, Rosalind Ralte, Asunta Lakra, Th. Ranjita and Manorama Devi, Dipika Murty, Marita Tirkey and Poonam Toppo

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