Indian women bounce back to crush hapless Canada

India bounced back from a languid opener to score an invigorating 4-1 victory over Canada in the second match of the women’s hockey Olympic Qualifiers at the Major Dhyan Chand National stadium on Sunday.

on target Rani Rampal (foreground) celebrates after scoring India’s second goal in their  4-1 defeat of Canada in the Olympic Qualifiers in New Delhi on Sunday. afp

Playing with vigour and pace, the Indians were in a different league together. They were galvanised into action early and constantly opened up chances with an impressive conversion rate. It is commendable that the hosts did not concede a single penalty corner. Soundarya Yendala (16th minute), Rani Rampaul (19th) , Sushila Chanu (29th) and Anuradha Devi (49th) scored for India while Hannah Haughn (69th) pulled one back for Canada at the fag end.

India, seven rungs above their opponents, had a spring in their feet and adopted attacking play right from the outset. After a few skirmishes, the Indians were rewarded with a penalty corner but failed to convert.

They got one more after nine minutes. Captain Asunta Lakra attemped a drag-flick, changed her mind and rolled the ball to Soundarya, who anticipated and deflected it in to put India up.

The goal opened the floodgates and within three minutes, Rani produced a stunner to put India 2-0 up. The talented forward came darting from the left, dribbling her way past two defenders and drove the ball into the net.

The Indians put persistent pressure on the Canadian defence and the strategy fetched them four successive penalty corners. They missed the first three but converted the fourth through a variation. Asunta and Sushila did a one-two before Sushila slotted home. India finished the first half leading 3-0. Canada stepped up the ante in the second half but the Indians remained in control. They soon went up 4-0 when Anuradha, getting a loose ball inside the circle from Rani, whacked it into the left top corner of the net.

A hapless Canada found some solace in the dying stages when Hannah scored following a goalmouth melee. However, the Canadians won the hearts of the thin audience as they took a lap to thank them for their presence.

India hoped to maintain the level in the remaining matches. Asunta said, “We didn’t want to make the same mistakes as yesterday. We were disappointed but we kept motivating ourselves . If we play the way we did today, I am sure  we can win this qualifier,” she said.

 Coach CR Kumar said there was still room for improvement. “The defenders were forcing the ball and losing positions and the linksmen were unable to trap the balls. The last goal was unwanted. But the win has boosted our confidence,” he said.

In other matches, Italy beat Poland 4-1 and South Africa beat Ukraine 2-0.
DH News Service

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