Women Asian Champions Trophy Preview

“This is a great opportunity for the players as we will playing against four teams that competed in the Rio Olympics.”

28 Oct

Singapore (26 Oct, 2016): China leads Asia’s top five women teams into battle for supremacy as the 4th Asian Champions Trophy moves into top gear at the  world-class Sengkang Hockey Stadium in Singapore from Oct 29-Nov 6.

The Chinese are World No 8 in the FIH Rankings, are the highest ranked team in the competition followed by Korea (9), Japan (10), India (12) and Malaysia at 21. Except for the Malaysians, the other four teams were in the thick of action in the just concluded Rio Olympics.

First introduced in 2010 to create an opportunity for teams to gather more high-level competition experience, the Women’s Asian Champions Trophy has taken place three times so far. In past Asian Champions Trophy editions, Korea have been the most successful team with two Asian Champions Trophy gold medals, while Japan have medals in each edition, claiming silver in 2010, bronze in 2011 and finally, gold in 2013.

The Indians also won bronze in 2010 and came out fourth in 2011. The Champions Trophy was not held in 2014 and 2015. As for China, their best finish was silver in 2011 on home soil but emerged fourth in 2010 and 2013 while Malaysia came third in Kakamigahara.

While China, India, Korea and Japan go into the tournament as ‘title pretenders’, the same cannot be said of the Malaysians who are the underdogs. The Malaysians play Korea in Saturday’s opening match while Japan takes on India in the next.

However, head coach K. Dharamaj is counting on his Malaysia Tigress to produces some ripples, gain respect and be countered in the title chase.

“If we look at the strength of the teams in terms of world rankings, we are way behind at No 21. But that should not deter us from giving our best. We have had a good international exposure in China, Japan and also played against Western Australia and in the Australia Hockey League,” said Dharmaraj.

The team, he added, gave a good account in the friendly matches against Western Australia and also in the Australian League where they finished seventh out of 10 teams.

The Malaysia Tigress were earlier given a grand sending off by Malaysian Hockey Federation (MHC), Dato’ Sri Subahan Kamal. He was joined by Dato Ow Soon Kooi, the chairman of the Coaching Committee and executive council members of the national governing body in Kuala Lumpur on Wednesday.
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“It will be a tough tournament but good in our preparations for the World League Round 2 in Kuala Lumpur from Jan 14-22,” said Dharmaraj. “This is a great opportunity for the players as we will playing against four teams that competed in the Rio Olympics.”

The return of goalkeeper Farah Ayuni Yahya and Noor Hasliza Yahya Ali who are trainees with the Royal Malaysian Police Force has poured more excitement into the squad. Both players did not travel to Perth for the Australian League.

Vandana Katariya is leading the Indian team in the Asian Champions Trophy while Sunita Lakra is deputy. Also in the squad are Namita Toppo and midfielder Rani Rampal who will add the experience to the team.

India’s chief coach, Neil Hawgood, said: “Though the Olympics could have ended better for the girls, they are high on confidence as they got to see what it really takes to play at the highest level and are vying to showcase top quality hockey during the Asian Champions Trophy.

“The team has been training at SAI, Bhopal over the past three weeks and are looking fresh from a well-deserved break post Rio.” he added.

Vandana, a member of the Rio Olympic team, says she feels honoured to lead the team who have a great understanding with each other on field.

“Rio was a great experience for most of us and there is a lot of scope for us to improve and I feel this tournament will certainly help us understand where we stand and how we can improve our game,” said Vandana.

29 Oct (Saturday):
Korea v Malaysia (4.0pm); Japan v India (6.0pm).

30 Oct (Sunday): China v Malaysia (4.0pm); Korea v India (6.0pm).

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