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Rourkela, June 26 – The 13th Hockey India Junior Women National Championship is set to begin on Tuesday at the Birsa Munda Hockey Stadium here, with players from 28 teams competing for the trophy.
The 28 teams are divided into 8 groups, with the winners of each group advancing to the quarterfinals.
Hockey Haryana, the two-time defending Champions, are in Pool A along with Hockey Bengal and Telangana Hockey.
“We have some good teams in our pool and are prepared to face a tough fight from all the teams as we have been practising with the aim of retaining the title yet again,” Hockey Haryana coach Azad Singh said of the team’s chances, before adding, “We will look to play attacking hockey, capitalise on our strength in penalty corners, and put our best foot forward in the National Championships, as we have in done previous years.”
Last year’s runners-up Hockey Jharkhand are placed in Pool B alongside Hockey Rajasthan and Assam Hockey.
Hockey Jharkhand Coach Himanshu reiterated his intention to win the National Championships, saying, “We have been practising for a little more than a week. Our sessions have been focused on exploiting weaknesses found in previous years’ opponents, as well as working on set pieces and playing practice matches. We have left no stone unturned in our efforts to improve our goal-scoring and turn the silver medal into a gold medal this time.”
Hockey Association of Odisha finished third during the previous edition of the tournament and this time around they look to go all the way. Hockey Association of Odisha are placed in Pool C alongside Hockey Unit of Tamil Nadu and Manipur Hockey.
Hockey Association of Odisha Coach Edgar said, “We have been preparing for the last three weeks, focusing primarily on our fitness and basics. The game plan is to maintain ball possession while communicating effectively to create opportunities. The National Championships are filled with several outstanding teams like Hockey Haryana, Hockey Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh Hockey, Hockey Punjab, and Hockey Chandigarh, and we are excited to face them on our way to the podium.”
Hockey Maharashtra, Delhi Hockey, and Kerala Hockey are in Pool D, while Hockey Karnataka, Hockey Madhya Pradesh, Le Puducherry Hockey, and Hockey Jammu and Kashmir are in Pool E. Hockey Chandigarh, Hockey Mizoram, Hockey Bihar, Dadra & Nagar Haveli and Daman & Diu Hockey are in Pool F, while Hockey Madhya Pradesh, Hockey Andhra Pradesh, Hockey Himachal Pradesh, and Goans Hockey are in Pool H.
The Championships will kick off with Hockey Karnataka taking on Hockey Jammu & Kashmir at 0630 hrs on Tuesday.