Tokyo, 31 July 2021: The Indian Women’s Hockey Team kept their Tokyo Olympics Quarter-Finals hopes alive after defeating South Africa 4-3 at the Oi Hockey Stadium here on Saturday. Vandana Katariya (4′, 17′, 49′) and Neha (32′) found the back of the net for India and helped their team clinch 3 crucial points in the competition.
India’s place in the knock-out stage of the tournament depends on the match between Ireland and Great Britain at 5:15 PM IST today. If Great Britain defeat Ireland or draw the game, India will go through to the Quarter-Finals with a fourth-place finish in Pool A.
India started aggressively, making a circle penetration early on in the match and earning a Penalty Corner in the opening minutes of the match, however, the Indian team couldn’t find a way to get on board. Moments later, Navneet Kaur made a brilliant run from the right and passed the ball to Vandana Katariya (4′), who tapped the ball into the goal and helped India take a 1-0 lead.
India kept putting pressure on the South Africans and kept creating goal-scoring opportunities. Navneet made another fantastic run in the 11th minute, but couldn’t find the back of the net. However, South Africa put some pressure on the Indians in the last few minutes of the first quarter and found a way to equalize the score. Taryn Mallett produced a long ground pass and Tarryn Glasby (15′) deflected the ball into the goal in the final minute of the first quarter.
India continued to put pressure on the South Africans and earned a Penalty Corner in the second minute of the second quarter. Deep Grace Ekka carried out the drag flick and Vandana (17′) deflected the ball brilliantly into the goal to help India take a 2-1 lead. Soon after, the South Africans made a circle penetration, but couldn’t find a way to score.
The South Africans put some more pressure on the Indian goal, but the Indian defence stood tall and ensured that the ball was kept away from the goal. India earned two Penalty Corners in the 6th minute of the second quarter, but the South Africans kept the Indians at bay. Neha made a fantastic run in the 9th minute of the second quarter and took a shot, but the South African Goalkeeper carried out a brilliant save to deny India their opportunity.
Moments later, Udita drove the ball into the circle, but the South Africans again deflected the ball away from the goal. India got close to the goal once again in the last few minutes of the first half, but they couldn’t get past the South African Goalkeeper. South Africa earned a Penalty Corner in the final minute of the first half and Captain Erin Hunter (30′) didn’t miss the opportunity to find the equalizer.
Neha made a fantastic run through the left flank in the opening minutes of the third quarter and got close to the goal, however, the South African Goalkeeper made a fantastic sliding save. Soon after, the Indians earned a Penalty Corner and converted it into a goal. Rani passed the ball to Neha (32′), who deflected the ball into the goal from the right brilliantly.
In the 9th minute of the third quarter, South Africa got really close to the goal, but Savita made an excellent save and ensured that India stayed in the lead. Moments later, South Africa made another circle penetration. Marizen Marais (39′) received the ball in the circle and found the back of the net to make it 3-3.
The South Africans continued to put pressure on the Indian goal, however, the Indian defence ensured that the South Africans didn’t get ahead in the game. India had a fantastic chance to score when Rani got close to the goal, however, the South African Goalkeeper made another fantastic save.
South Africa earned two Penalty Corners early on in the fourth quarter, but the Indian defence stood tall and pushed the ball away from the goal. But South Africa kept the pressure on and earned another Penalty Corner in the next minute, however, they couldn’t convert their opportunity.
Sharmila drove the ball from the right in the third minute of the final quarter, but the Indians couldn’t deflect the ball into the goal. India earned a Penalty Corner in the next minute and Rani took a shot, however, it was brilliantly saved by the South African Goalkeeper. The Indians earned another Penalty Corner soon after; Gurjit Kaur carried out the drag-flick and Vandana (49′) deflected the ball into the goal, recording a hat-trick in the match.
Sharmila made an excellent run on the left flank in the 12th minute, but she couldn’t find a breakthrough for India. Soon after, India earned a Penalty Corner, but couldn’t convert their opportunity. The Indians kept most of the ball possession in the final minutes of the match and ensured that they walked off the pitch with 3 points.
Post-match comments from Chief Coach Sjoerd Marijne:
“I think we started the match very well, but we gave the South Africans too much space while defending. We were good in our offensive game, we created opportunities, we scored Penalty Corner goals so I am happy about that. The most important thing is that we won and we got the three points and now we have to wait and see what happens between Ireland and Great Britain. It’s not easy to play in the current conditions, it’s 35 degrees so I think that the girls made a good effort. Let’s hope we make the Quarter-Finals.”
The Quarter-Finals of the Women’s Hockey event at the Tokyo Olympics will be played on 2 August 2021.