Monday, September 29, 2014

Indian women's hockey lose semi-final, face Japan for bronze medal

This piece was published in Sportskeeda

The last time Indian women’s hockey team locked horns with Korea in an international fixture was at the 2013 Asia Cup in Ipoh, where they went down by the odd goal in three. And on Monday at the Seonhak Hockey Stadium the Indian eves, riding high on confidence following their 6-1 mauling of Malaysia, were brought down to earth by a Kim Darae goal as early as in the 3rd minute.

Early goals can be quite disturbing for any team, especially in the knockout stage even before India had hardly settled down. To the credit of the Indians, they took the early setback in their stride and mounted efforts to draw level and were rewarded when Namita Toppo rattled the Korean cage off a nifty pass from Vandana Katariya.

The Ritu Rani-led side were very much in the contest as the scoreline read 1-1 at the end of the opening quarter. The Neil Hawgood-coached side must have walked onto the pitch for the second quarter teeming with confidence, but the Koreans playing in front of their home crowd forged ahead in the closing stages of the second quarter when Han Hyelyoung converted a penalty corner in the 29th minute to ensure her side held the aces at the half-time break.

Indians needed to equalize early in the second half to press for a win, but it was not to be the case as Korea enhanced the lead through Park Mihyun in the 42nd minute leaving their opponents with a massive task of scoring at least thrice and book a final berth. India messed up a chance to reduce the deficit when Jaspreet Kaur’s power-packed PC was well saved by the Korean goalkeeper early in the final quarter.

Korea will now face defending champions China, who battled past Japan by a solitary goal in the 57th minute through a penalty corner conversion by Wang Mengyu. India will play Japan in the bronze medal play-off game on Wednesday.

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