Women's Asia Cup hockey: India face a final hurdle in higher-ranked China

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Sushila Chanu (right), India women's hockey team defender

Kakamigahara (Japan), November 4: Two weeks after the Indian men's team lifted the Asia Cup, an inspired Indian women's team will vie for top honours as they take on China in the final of the Women's Asia Cup 2017 at the Kakamigahara Kawasaki Stadium on Sunday (November 5).

It's a sweet double that the Indian Women are aiming for and going by skipper Rani Rampal's optimism, the girls are all set for an exciting finish. "We are extremely motivated after the men won the Asia Cup. Now, it's our turn to win. The mood in the dressing room is upbeat. Everyone is excited and fully prepared for the final. We want to qualify for the World Cup next year by winning this tournament," Rani said.

Her confidence stems from the team's stupendous form in the tournament as they have remained unbeaten in their five matches so far. They also ousted defending champions Japan in the semi-final to book a final against higher-ranked China. "The match against Japan was really good. Getting off to a good start was always the plan and every member of the team executed their role brilliantly. We played as per the strategies planned by our coaches and ensured there were minimal errors," Rani said.

Though India notched up a formidable 4-1 win against World No 8 China in the pool stage, the Rani-led squad are aware they need to bring their A-game to clinch the title. During the Asian Champions Trophy last year, India had lost to China 2-3 in the pool stage but came back strongly in the final to beat them 2-1 in a crunch game. "We know that China is a good team and can be quite unpredictable. We can't take them lightly simply because we have beaten them before. We have worked on our game plan for tomorrow and focus will be on following the strategy made by our coaches," she added.

With 27 goals thus far in the tournament, India's forwardline has been rather fierce creating PCs and finding spaces to pump goals. Off the total goals scored, drag-flicker Gurjit Kaur has eight goals to her name and is also the third highest goal-scorer in the tournament so far. Navjot Kaur and Navneet Kaur have four goals each while Deep Grace and Rani have scored thrice. Young gun Lalremsiami has scored twice while Neha Goyal, Sonika and Vandana Katariya have a goal each to their credit.

The final between India and China will be played at 3 pm on Sunday (November 5).

Source: Agencies

Story first published: Saturday, November 4, 2017, 16:49 [IST]
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