hi INDiA Copyright 2020
TOKYO, July 31: Indian women’s hockey team qualified for the Olympic quarterfinals after 41 years after it beat South Africa 4-3 and later defending champions Great Britain blanked Ireland 2-0 to ensure its passage into the knockout stage, here on Saturday.
India finished their group A league proceedings in fourth place with six points, riding on back-to-back wins over Ireland and South Africa and will now face pool B toppers Australia in the quarter-final on Monday.
The top four teams from each pool made it to the knockout stage. Indian women team’s best finish at the Olympics was in Moscow back in 1980 when they reached the semi-finals but ended fourth.
While Great Britain’s win was required, no one can take away credit from Vandana Kataria, who scored a hat-trick in India’s win in a pulsating clash against the South Africans.
Kataria (4th, 17th, 49th minutes) achieved a rare feat by becoming the first Indian woman hockey player to score a hat-trick in the Olympics.
Young Neha Goyal (32nd) was the other goal getter.
South Africa’s goals came from the sticks of Tarryn Glasby (15th), skipper Erin Hunter (30th) and Marizen Marais (39th).
“Today’s game was really tough, South Africa gave us a really good fight. They converted their chances in the circle. Defensively, we can be a lot better,” skipper Rani Rampal said.
India’s chief coach Sjoerd Marijne heaved a sigh of relief but was not happy with the number of goals his side conceded.
“We gave too many goals away, and I think we can score more goals, that is the main thing for today. We did what we had to do, we had to win this match, and we did,” he said.
“Playing in these circumstances, you feel it, the humidity and I think it’s more than 35 degrees on the pitch, it does not make it easy,” he added. (PTI)