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Men’s and women’s India A hockey teams to play in Australian league

Saturday, Sep 23, 2017,13:24 IST By anju A A A

New Delhi | The men’s and women’s India A hockey teams today left the country to take part in the Australian Hockey League, beginning on September 28 in Perth.

The league will see 10 teams, including defending champions Victoria, fight for top honours.

The men’s India A team was based at Sports Authority of India’s Bengaluru center while the women’s team trained at the SAI Centre in Bhopal as part of their preparations for the Australian challenge.

The men’s India A team led by goalkeeper Vikas Dahiya had showings in recent tournaments. The team comprises several players from the Indian side that won the 2016 Junior World Cup in Lucknow.

“I think we have a very good mix of players with many of us who have played together for more than four years. There is a great understanding among the players and we have undergone good preparations for the challenge in Australia. The teams we will be playing are quite strong with players of national repute but we are geared up for a good show,” Dahiya said.

He said a good performance in this tournament can help grab the attention of national selectors ahead of the all- important Men’s Hockey World League Final in Bhubaneswar in December.

“With the development squad, the player pool is much larger and there is scope for every player to showcase their abilities. A good performance in AHL will help players get a call-up for the men’s squad. The competition within our team is healthy and each one will undoubtedly give more than their 100 per cent,” said Dahiya.

Meanwhile, 19-year-old Preeti Dubey, skipper of the women’s India A team said that the AHL will be a good stepping stone for young and upcoming players.

“Apart from four or five of us in this team, not many girls have had strong international exposure. Considering this is the first time that a women’s team from India is being sent for the AHL, there is a lot of excitement among the players,” said Preeti, who had a good outing for the senior side at the Hockey World League Semi-Final recently.

For the women, the AHL will be a platform to test their abilities against a strong set of opponents in tough Australian conditions.

“The Australians play fast and attacking hockey. While our aim is to perform well in all departments, the AHL will be a very good platform for most of us to understand the demands of fast-paced international hockey.

“Moving forward, this experience will definitely help us in other international tournaments and we are looking forward to this challenge,” Preeti added.

The men’s India A team will begin their campaign against Western Australia on September 29 while the women will take on Victoria in their first match on the same day.