Indian women lift Asia Cup

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 06 Nov 2017 10:03:11


 

KAKAMIGAHARA (Japan),

Qualify for World Cup

GOALKEEPER Savita produced a stunning save in a tense shoot-out as India won the Asia Cup to secure qualification in next year’s hockey World Cup following a nerve-wracking win over China in the final here on Sunday.
The team broke a 13-year-old jinx when skipper Rani scored the final goal and Savita foiled an attempt from the rivals to ensure a 5-4 win.India had failed to qualify for the last World Cup and finished ninth in the 2010 edition.


Rani scored twice while Monica, Lilima Minz and Navjot scored a goal each in the shoot-out. Earlier, it was Navjot Kaur who scored India’s lone goal in the 25th minute while China found a late equaliser through Tiantian Luo, who converted a penalty corner in the 47th minute.
It was in 2004 when the Indian women’s team had clinched the Asia Cup trophy by beating Japan 1-0. It was advantage China right at the start as a stick check in the circle saw India concede a penalty corner in the second minute of the game.


However, Savita was at her best and padded it away while an alert Deep Grace cleared the ball. Soon after, Indian forwards launched a swift attack with Navneet Kaur and Vandana working in tandem to find space in the Chinese D but an attentive Wang Na averted danger.
China, meanwhile, won their second PC but Savita was spot on yet again to pad away Meiyu Liang’s flick.
With the first quarter ending in a stalemate, India came back looking determined to find a breakthrough. The Indian forwards kept the pressure on China as they made brave forays into the striking circle.


Navjot came close to converting a field goal in the 17th minute but her diving effort was blocked, even as skipper Rani made a quick attempt to find a deflection.
It was not until the 25th minute when India found their first breakthrough as Navneet and Rani played give-and-take before penetrating the circle, only to assist Navjot, who took a clear shot on goal. Though China launched a counterattack soon after, Indian defenders were up to the task.


India began the third quarter rather positively as they stayed persistent with an aggressive attack. They dominated ball possession with accurate passing, rotating the ball and testing China’s patience.

It was important to qualify for World Cup on merit: Rani
INDIAN women’s hockey team on Sunday qualified for the World Cup by winning the Asia Cup and captain Rani said it was important for the team to enter next year’s mega event on merit.
“We are all extremely happy that we won the Asia Cup and have earned the qualification for next year’s World Cup on merit,” said Rani after India defeated China 5-4 via a shoot-out in the final.


The team broke a 13-year-old jinx when Rani scored the final goal and goalkeeper Savita foiled an attempt from the rivals to ensure a 5-4 win.
“We had a lot of young players in the team who showed great spirit in playing on such a big platform. The team gave a good fight to China and China too played equally well today and the match went into penalty shootout.
“It was a high level competition and we did not drop our level at any point in the game. Savita made a brilliant save in sudden death and I am happy I could convert that goal in sudden death.”


She said the win has boosted the team’s confidence ahead of the 2018 Commonwealth and Asian Games.
“We would like to especially thank Hockey India and SAI (Sports Authority of India) for their continued support and ensuring we get the best facilities. Hopefully we will carry this confidence and motivation into the Commonwealth Games and Asian Games.”


India last played in the World Cup in 2010 as they failed to qualify for the 2014 edition.
Talking about the shootout, Rani revealed that preparing for tense situations helped the team pull through.
“We were not happy with our performance in Johannesburg at the World League Semi Final and right then the team had decided that we need to start winning in order to gain that confidence to perform well in top tournaments.


“We worked a lot on creating PCs and Gurjit worked hard on converting PCs during our camps. We were also well prepared for a shoot-out situation as we were anticipating the knockouts to end in shootouts. All the preparation helped us today.”