New Delhi, March 5 (IANS) India will be the clear favourites as eight international women’s teams battle it out to progress along the road to the 2016 Rio Olympics this weekend when the Hockey World League (HWL) Round 2 gets underway at the Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium here.
The tournament, which takes place between March 7-15, will witness Malaysia, Russia, Poland, Ghana, Kazakhstan, Singapore, Thailand and host nation India fighting for a top-two finish in order to guarantee a place in the HWL Semi-Finals where the coveted Olympic berths are on offer.
As the top ranked team and also having the advantage of playing on home soil, it is little surprise that World No.13 India come into Round 2 as favourites. Despite an average age of just 22.7 years, the squad contains five players who have each surpassed the 100 caps mark with captain Ritu Rani being the squad’s most experienced player with 193.
“Our sole target is to perform well and get into Round 3 in order to move a step closer to qualifying for the 2016 Rio Olympics. The team is confident following recent victories against Germany and Spain in Valencia which has certainly motivated us to put on a great show in the league,” Rani said.
Another Rani well worth watching out for is 20-year-old forward Rani Rampal, who was named player of the tournament at the 2013 Junior World Cup when India claimed bronze.
India have been placed in Pool A against Poland, Ghana and Thailand. The team begins its campaign against Ghana on Saturday.