HI springs surprise, names Sushila as eves' captain

HI springs surprise, names Sushila as eves' captain

HI springs surprise, names Sushila as eves' captain

The women's hockey team, who will be competing in the Olympic Games after 36 years, will be captained by Sushila Chanu following the last-minute axe handed to experienced Ritu Rani.

Sushila, a defender with an experience of 112 caps, will have fellow defender Deepika as her deputy. "I was really surprised because there were so many experienced players in the side. It is very special for me to be able to lead the side in the Olympics," said Sushila, who hails from Manipur.

The absence of Ritu was conspicuous but coach Neil Hawgood preferred to focus on the future. "We have picked a side which we felt was most committed. We are not bothered by anybody's absence. A captain is someone who leads by example and Sushila has shown that she is committed and has all the attributes for the role," he said.

However, a team official confided that Ritu was told time and again to mend her ways. The team management has dropped her on the basis of form and attitude.

"It was something that didn't happen overnight. We advised her to pay more attention to the team and her responsibility as the captain of the side. In fact both Neil and Roelant Oltmans had a chat with her. But she didn't pay any heed," the official said.

Hawgood said the team was first eyeing the quarterfinals.

"We have probably got the toughest pool. We got most of the top 10 teams in our side. In the last six months we have pushed the preparations to the level that this side was not used to.

"But it was last year in December during the Argentina tour that we got a glimpse that we could compete. We have got all the international matches that we wanted but just that we got them in short span which got us a bit fatigued. But we are all ready now."

The Indian eves will leave for USA on Thursday where they will play three practice games against Canada and two against USA.

The squad: Goalkeepeers: Savita.

Forwards: Anuradha Devi Thokchom, Poonam Rani, Vandana Katariya, Rani, Preeti Dubey.

Midfileder: Navjot Kaur, Monika, Nikki Pradhan, Renuka Yadav, Lilima Minz.

Defenders: Sushila Chanu (captain), Deep Grace Ekka, Deepika (vice-captain), Namita Toppo, Sunita Lakra.

Standbyes: Hnialum Lal Ruat Feli, Rajani Etimmarpu (goalkeeper).

Chief coach: Neil Hawgood.