Experienced forward Vandana Katariya has been ruled out of the tournament due to injury; will be replaced by Baljeet Kaur
Ranchi, 03 January 2024: With their sights set on a third consecutive Olympic berth, the Indian Women’s Hockey Team arrived in Ranchi, Jharkhand on Wednesday evening for the much-awaited FIH Hockey Olympic Qualifiers 2024. The Indian team led by seasoned goalkeeper Savita will begin their campaign on 13th January 2024 against the United States, a team they fought against in 2019 for a ticket to the Tokyo Olympics.
Upon arriving in Ranchi, Captain Savita said, “We are excited to be back in Ranchi for the all-important FIH Hockey Olympic Qualifiers 2024. Last time we were here for the Women’s Asian Champions Trophy, the home crowd supported us a lot and we thoroughly enjoyed playing here. We are looking forward to starting our campaign and interestingly our first match is against the USA with whom we played the previous Olympic Qualifiers. I am sure it will be an exciting opening match and we look forward to a good start to our campaign.”
The Indian side grouped in Pool B will take on New Zealand on 14th January, and play against Italy on 16th January while the knockout matches will be held on 18th and 19th January respectively. The other teams in the fray include Olympic Silver medalists Germany, former Asian Games Champions Japan, Chile and the Czech Republic in Pool A. The top 3 teams from the tournament will qualify for the Paris Olympic Games 2024.
While the mood is upbeat in the team to bag a ticket to Paris, the home side received a minor setback when experienced forward Vandana Katariya, also named the Vice Captain, was ruled out of the tournament due to an injury. She will be replaced by youngster Baljeet Kaur who has shown great promise in India’s recent outings, meanwhile, local star Nikki Pradhan has been named as the Vice Captain. Notably, Nikki was the first women’s hockey player from Jharkhand to represent India at the Olympic Games in 2016.
“It’s unfortunate that Vandana won’t be part of the tournament. She sustained a fracture in her cheekbone during a training session, and she has been advised to rest. While we will miss the experience of Vandana, Baljeet Kaur who has been doing well for the team will step in for her senior compatriot and Nikki, also a very experienced player for India will shoulder the responsibility of Vice Captain,” stated Chief Coach Janneke Schopman.
On 13th January 2024, India will take on United States at 1930 hours IST.
Matches will be live on Sports18 / Jio Cinema.