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Defending Asia Cup key focus, says Savita

Indian women’s team eyes a a direct berth in FIH World Cup

Defending the title at the women’s hockey Asia Cup and sealing a direct berth in the FIH World Cup later will be the key focus for India as it will set the tone for the side ahead of a busy season, said team’s vice-captain Savita.

The Indian women will travel to Oman for the Asia Cup, to be held from January 21 to 28.

The top eight teams of the continent — India, China, Korea, Japan, Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia and Singapore — will vie for honours, from where the top four will qualify for the FIH Women’s World Cup 2022 in Spain and the Netherlands in July.

“In 2017, we won the Asia Cup to obtain direct qualification for the FIH Women’s World Cup in London.Starting the season with a good show in Asia Cup will give us the right momentum as we play back-to-back tournaments” the goalkeeper said in a Hockey India statement.

After the Asia Cup, the Indian women will make their FIH Pro League debut, playing the Netherlands, Spain, Germany and England in Bhubaneswar. The Indians will then travel to Belgium and the Netherlands to take on the host, Argentina and USA in June.

“I feel the Pro League matches will provide us with the best exposure ahead of the World Cup (in July).”

That follows the Indian women team’s two big assignment of the year — Birmingham Commonwealth Games in July followed by the Asian Games in Hangzhou, where the team will aim for a gold to seal a direct qualification for the the 2024 Paris Olympics.

The Indian women will wrap up the season with the FIH Women’s Nations Cup.

“Having a good core group in such a hectic year will mean a lot in terms of ensuring our performance doesn’t drop,” added Savita.

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