New Delhi: Indian women began their quest for a berth in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics in a remarkable manner as they thrashed USA 5-1 at the Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar on Friday in the first of the two matches they are to play.
Gurjit Kaur scored twice while Lilima, Sharmila and Navneet found a goal each as India emerged as the clear winners of the match.
India, who are ranked ninth in the world, are taking on world No.13 USA for a place in the next year’s Summer Olympic Games.
The winners will be determined as follows: teams will be ranked according to the number of points each has accumulated in both matches (for each match, 3 points are awarded to the winner, 1 point to each team in the event of a draw and 0 points to the loser). If there is equality among the two teams, then the teams will be ranked according to their respective goal difference. If equality remains, a shoot-out competition will be played to establish the winner. Therefore, the objective of both the teams will be to secure direct qualification for the Tokyo 2020 hockey tournaments – which will be staged in Japan’s capital city from 25 July to 7 August next year and involve 12 Men’s and 12 Women’s teams.
The first quarter was an edgy one, where India started on a strong note but USA got the better chances to take the lead. However, none of the two teams could find the goal as the score stood 0-0 after the first 15 minutes of play.
India broke the deadlock in the 29th minute through Lilima. She was left unmarked and she made no mistake in giving India the lead. India failed to convert a penalty corner but kept the ball alive and Lilima found the goal.
From that moment on, India were the dominant side as they created chances for themselves. India took a big advantage in the second quarter when they scored two in two to give themselves a three-goal lead.
Presenting you the best-picked photos of Team India and USA in action in FIH Hockey Olympic Qualifiers.#OdishaForHockey #RoadToTokyo #Tokyo2020 @USAFieldHockey @TheHockeyIndia #INDvUSA pic.twitter.com/39UfSeqUsD
— Odisha Sports (@sports_odisha) November 1, 2019
In the 40th minute, Rani Rampal played a perfect pass towards Sharmila, who was right at the goalmouth and tapped the ball in from close range.
Just two minutes later, Gurjit Kaur’s execute a brilliant low penalty corner drag-flick to put India in a commanding spot.
India started the third quarter brilliantly as they scored within 30 seconds of the start of play. Navneet Kaur collected a pass from Salima Tete in the USA circle and shot the ball straight into the bottom left corner.
In the 51st minute, India’s Monika was fouled by Margaux Paolino and they got a penalty stroke. Despite a review from USA, the decision stayed and Gurjit made no mistake in scoring her second on the night.
USA managed to pull one goal back in the 53rd minute when Erin Matson kept a cool head to score off a penalty stroke awarded to the visitors.
India will play the second match of the tie on Saturday as they look to qualify for 2020 Tokyo Games.
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