Asian Games: Indian women go down to Japan in hockey, clinch silver
The Indian women’s hockey team went down fighting in the final to a spirited Japanese outfit and settled for the silver medal. Rani Rampal’s team as a result will now have to play the qualifiers in order to book their berth at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
Japan started the match at break neck speed and took the lead in the 11th minute through Minami Shimuzi, who converted from a penalty-corner. Indian goal-keeper Savita made valiant attempt to make a save but the ball hit her armour and deflected into the top of the net.
India fought back strongly and created several opportunities but Japan finished the first quarter 1-0 ahead. The equaliser came in the 25th minute as Neha Goyal scored from close range. She put her stick out and got an important deflection to get the goal.
Both sides went on the offensive thereafter looking get ahead in the match. India in fact looked to be the team in control but Japan scored again in the 44th minute. This time it was Motomi Kawamura who converted from the penalty-corner.
The Indians went all out looking for the equaliser in the fourth quarter but Japan kept the ball in their possession for long to frustrate the opponents. India came very close to getting the equaliser in the closing minutes of the match but eventually it was the Japanese girls who held their nerves to win the gold medal.
India were playing in the final for the first time since 1998, when they had finished runners-up to South Korea. The Indian women’s team had finished with the bronze medal in 2006 and 2014. The only gold medal for India came at the 1982 New Delhi Asian Games, when women’s hockey was introduced at the Asian Games.