Muscat, Jan 18: The Women’s Asia Cup is a great opportunity to make a mark in the Senior Women’s Hockey Team, feels talented young forward Mariana Kujur who hails from the hockey belt Sundargarh in Odisha.
A product of the Panposh Academy, Mariana idolised her senior compatriots Deep Grace Ekka, Lilima Minz and Nimita Toppo who are products of Odisha’s rich hockey culture.
“I am grateful for this opportunity. The Women’s Asia Cup is a very prestigious tournament in the international calendar and I really want to use this opportunity to perform the role I’ve been assigned and live up to the team’s expectations,” she said.
“The past few weeks in the camp in Bengaluru was good for me as I worked on understanding the level at which the Senior team plays and I believe I have developed good on-field communication with the players particularly in the forwardline and the midfield,” Mariana expressed.
Having arrived in Muscat, Oman on Sunday, the team has put in a few hard yards of practice sessions in order to get used to the conditions there and Mariana believes the team is quite upbeat ahead of their first game on 21st January. “After arriving in Muscat, we had a few good sessions of hockey. The weather is quite pleasant and we are getting used to the pitch at the Sultan Quboos Sports Complex. It is a beautiful venue and the team is quite excited ahead of the first match.”
Speaking about being part of the same team which features one of her idols Deep Grace Ekka leading the team as the Vice Captain, Mariana said, “Deep Grace is such a cool-headed player. She never lets the opponents get the better of her even in pressure situations. There is a lot that I can learn from her and she’s been quite supportive all along. She always advices me to play my natural game and not feel the pressure of playing for the Senior side. I think that way, all the players have been quite supportive and I am really looking forward to having a good outing here,” she stated.
The defending Champions India are grouped in pool A along with Japan, Malaysia and Singapore. They will begin their campaign on opening day against Malaysia on 21 January and will play Japan on 23 January. India will take on Singapore in their last pool A match on 24 January. The Semi Finals will be played on 26 January and the final match on 28 January. Top four teams from this tournament will qualify for the FIH Women’s World Cup 2022.