India target semifinal spot as they play Ireland again

India target semifinal spot as they play Ireland again

Having beaten Italy to make the quarterfinals, India will be eyeing revenge against Ireland on Thursday. AP/ PTI

Their erratic campaign back on track, the Indian women's hockey team would now be aiming to secure its first World Cup semifinal spot in 44 years by exacting revenge against giant-killers Ireland in the last-eight stage here on Thursday.

India registered their first win of the tournament by sailing past Italy in a play-off on Tuesday night and If they manage to beat Ireland, it would ensure them only their second appearance in the World Cup last-four. Their previous semifinal appearance was back in 1974 in Mandelieu, France, where they eventually finished fourth.

In the last edition of the tournament in Rosario, Argentina, India had finished a disappointing eighth. 

Having come second best in their last two meetings, it would be quite a task for the Indians to beat Ireland. The Irish have been in ominous form having topped Pool B ahead of higher-ranked USA and India. World No.16 Ireland outclassed USA 3-1 and India 1-0 before slumping to a 0-1 defeat against hosts England.

India, on the other hand, had to slog it out to make it to the quarterfinals, having drawn 1-1 against England and USA respectively and losing 0-1 to Ireland.

The Indians would take heart from the 3-0 win over lower-ranked Italy in the cross-over match. The Rani Rampal-led side re-discovered its scoring prowess to finally end Italy's World Cup adventure through a field strike from Lalremsiami (20th minute) and two penalty corner goals from Neha Goyal (45th) and Vandana Katariya (55th) to register an emphatic win.

The Indian defence has produced a stellar performance throughout the tournament while goalkeeper Savita too has been solid. 

It was the forward-line which was lacking the sting but last night's performance would do a world of good for the strikers' confidence. Skipper Rani feels India have gained confidence as the tournament has progressed and they would look to carry that forward going into the business-end of the event.

"Early on in the tournament we didn't do the one thing we needed to do –- score goals. But we have found the net now and we can definitely push on with our journey. We do not see that journey ending tomorrow," she said.

Meanwhile, in the other quarterfinal of the day, the mighty Netherlands will take on hosts England.


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