India look to eves for redemption

ON THE CUSP OF GLORY Indian eves will be keen to put on another collective performance in the final against Japan. AFP

Having broken a 20-year-old jinx, a confident Indian women’s hockey team will be desperate to end 36-year wait when it takes on Japan in the gold-medal clash of the Asian Games here on Friday.

Last edition’s bronze medallist India registered a hard-fought 1-0 win over China on Wednesday to enter the final of the Asian Games after 20 years.

The Indian women last made it to the summit clash of the Asian Games in Bangkok in 1998 and ended runners-up after losing to Korea.

Having already achieved that goal, India’s next target will be to reclaim the gold medal.

The Indians won their only Asiad gold in the women’s hockey way back in 1982 in New Delhi. Come Friday, they would be desperate to break that jinx and add to their one gold, one silver and three bronze medals tally from nine previous appearances.

Going by world ranking and performance in the tournament so far, world No 9 India will start as favourites against 14th ranked Japan.

The Indian women too have been impressive so far with an unbeaten record, having registered huge victories against Indonesia (8-0), Kazakhstan (21-0), Korea (4-1) and Thailand (5-0) in the pool stages before the close win over resilient Chinese on Wednesday.

The Indians have been brilliant in defence so far and conceding just one goal in 300 minutes is a testimony to the fact.

Deep Grace Ekka, Deepika, Gurjit Kaur, Sunita Lakra and youngster Reena Khokhar have all played a major role in backline. But chief coach Sjoerd Marijne doesn’t believe in crediting an individual, instead he feels the credit for the strong display in defence is a result of collective effort.

“We have been good in defence throughout the tournament. We have been excellent with tackling. The only goal we conceded was against a strong team like Korea, and that gives me and the girls huge confidence going into the final,” Marijne said on the eve of the all-important summit clash.

“We have defended well as a unit with everyone executing their duties.”

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India look to eves for redemption

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