While the women's hockey team qualified for Olympics after 36 years, it is still hard to expect a medal from the relatively inexperienced women's hockey team. However, it is believed that the team win a few games within their group and at least reach the quarter finals. It is evident from the team's strength of tenacity and willpower that helped them to qualify for Rio Olympics and has enabled them to perform consistently in the past.
Although, historically India has won several hockey matches at the Olympic events, played across the decades, the women's team has never made an impact at the mega sport events. Earlier, the women's team had last performed at the 1980 Moscow Games and was able to secure fourth position. Meanwhile, the men's team had struck their last gold medal in that competition. At Rio 2016, it is expected that the Indian women hockey team will at least reach the fourth position again.
Defender Sushila Chanu is the captain of the 16-member squad and her backline teammate Deepika is the vice-captain. The team comprises five defenders, five midfielders, five forwards and one goalkeeper in Savita.
Overall, the team combines youth and experience and represents a talented group of players. The team's defence will be handled by experienced Deepika, Sunita Lakra, Sushila, Namita Toppo and Deep Grace Ekka, while the midfield will be managed by Renuka Llima Minz, Monika, Navjot Kaur and young Nikki Pradhan. Moreover, the forward line comprises Rani Rampal, Poonam Rani, Vandana Katariya, Anuradha Devi Thockchom and Preeti Dubey. Neil Hawgood is the coach of the Indian hockey squad.
In the last few years, the team's performance at international and multi-sport events has become better. The team's qualification for the Rio Olympics is nothing short of history and they intend to capitalise on that. The team secured the top spot at the 2014–15 Women's FIH Hockey World League Semi-finals to qualify for Rio Olympics and defeated Japan 2-1 to be awarded the bronze medal at the 2014 Asian Games.
However, the team has been bugged with recent controversy following the removal of captain Ritu Rani from the squad citing bad performance and attitude issues.
However, Sushila Chanu has the experience of over hundred matches to her credit and captained the junior Indian team in 2013. Under her leadership, the team went on to win a bronze medal at the junior World Cup held in Germany.
At Rio, India is currently playing their round-robin matches with countries ranked above them in Group B. Apart from India, the other countries in Group B are Argentina, Australia, Great Britain, Japan and United States. The competition formats allows the top four teams in a group to qualify for quarter-finals after each team have played round-robin games within their group. Although, India is placed in a tough group, it is hoped that they will perform well to at least qualify for the quarters.