New Delhi: The Indian women’s hockey team, Asia’s fourth ranked team led by captain Rani, left for Japan to participate in the 9th Asia Cup that will begin on Saturday.

The tournament, to be held in Kakamigahara in the East Asian nation, is an important one for the Indian team as it looks to book a spot in the World Cup to be held next year in London.

Newly appointed chief coach Harendra Singh is confident that his team can produce good performances against higher ranked China, Korea and Japan when they face off in the tournament.

“We have been training well at the national camp (at the Sports Authority of India in Bengaluru) for the past four weeks in order to prepare for the women’s Asia Cup in Japan. The 18-member team has had the right exposure in the past few months as they have toured Europe and played against tough opponents. At the Asia Cup, we will look to perform well in order to confirm qualification for next year’s World Cup,” Singh said.

India, the 12th ranked team in the world, will be up against China (8th), Korea (9th) and Japan (11th) in Pool A.

“We have been working on our structure and defensive strategies in order to make the required improvements in our game. Speed also plays a huge role in the hockey that is played these days, and we are confident that we can perform well against the best teams in Asia keeping in mind that we cannot take any team lightly in such a big competition,” said Rani. ANI