The Indian women’s hockey team would look to begin its Asian Champions Trophy campaign on a winning note when it takes on Thailand here on Sunday.
The tournament marks the team’s first outing after missing a bronze medal by a whisker in the Tokyo Olympics.
India had won the ACT title in 2016 before finishing runners-up to tournament hosts Korea in the same city in the 2018 edition.
Captain and goalkeeper Savita said her team is geared up for the challenge.
“The team’s focus right now is to make a good start. This is our first international outing after the Olympics and playing the first match will always create some butterflies in the stomach,” Savita said ahead of the opening match.
China, Korea, Japan and Malaysia are the other teams in the single-pool competition.
Talking about the other opponents, Savita said, “We are looking forward to a tough challenge from hosts Korea and surely we cannot under estimate China or Japan who are Asian Games Gold medalists.
“After arriving here, we went through some good practice sessions on the pitch here to get acclimatized. It is a beautiful facility and we are not new to the conditions in this pitch. Weather is quite cold and getting used to this could be a bit of a challenge initially,” she said.
Savita also highlighted the importance of this tournament ahead of a busy schedule next year when they will defend the Asia Cup and also vie for the top spot in the Asian Games to ensure they book a berth for the Paris Olympics.
India play Malaysia in their second match on December 6 before facing hosts and defending champions Korea two days later. They play China on December 9 and Japan on December 11.
The final will take place on December 12 between the top two teams in the pool.