Women’s Asia Cup Hockey: Now, Indian women rule Asia

Women’s Asia Cup Hockey: Now, Indian women rule Asia

BANGALURU: In a nail-biting finish to their campaign, Rani-led Indian women's hockey team thwarted China to regain the Asia Cup after 13 years. With this win, the Indian women joined the men as the continental champions.

In a finale that went into shoot outs, India prevailed 5-4 via the sudden death at Kakamigahara Kawasaki Stadium in Japan. The teams were locked 1-1 in regulation time and 4-4 after the shoot outs. Rani then scored what was the winning goal as Savita made a great save in sudden death to ensure the win.

Earlier, it was Navjot Kaur who scored India's lone goal in the 25th minute.

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 breaking the deadlock in the 17th minute but was blocked and Rani's deflection didn't find the target either. India found their first breakthrough when Navjot and Rani combined to penetrate the striking circle and made no mistake in finding the target.

Buoyed by the 1-0 lead, India dominated the third quarter but failed to break the Chinese defence. A successful video referral in the 47th minute earned China a penalty corner, which Tiantian Luo put away to the right corner of the post with precision.

With the scores level, both teams pressed hard but neither team gave didn't give away an inch.

With less than three minutes to go for the final hooter, China won a penalty corner - their third of the match. The attempt was brilliantly saved by rusher Sunita Lakra. India then launched a counterattack but only to send the ball wide of the target.

In the penalty shootout, Rani scored twice while Monica, Lilima Minz and Navjot scored a goal each. Savita was deservingly named the goalkeeper of the tournament, while Monica won the player of the match award.

 Although India earned a 2018 London World Cup berth with the title triumph, South Africa had cleared their passage for the extravaganza last month when they beat Ghana 4-0 to claim the African Cup of Nations. Since South Africa had already qualified, India had sneaked through, having finished eighth at the Hockey World League Semifinals in Johannesburg earlier this year.
The bronze medal went to Korea after they beat the hosts and reigning champions Japan in a tightly-contested game 1-0.
The team that was coached by current men's coach Sjoerd Marijne till recently, was playing their first tournament under chief coach Harendra Singh, who last year coached the junior Indian men's team to the World Cup triumph at home.
Source-Times Of India

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