Indian women’s hockey team one win away from Paris Olympics ticket
The Indian women’s hockey team has been successful in maintaining its hopes of playing the third consecutive Olympics. India reached the semi-finals of the FIH Olympic Hockey Qualifier (Women) by defeating Italy 5-1 in their last match of Pool B.
Now India will face Pool A’s number one team Germany in the semi-finals. If India has to defeat a strong team like Germany, then it will have to improve its performance during the pool matches. If the Indian team wins the semi-final match, it will be confirmed for it to participate in the Paris Olympics.
But if it is not able to qualify in the semi-finals, then it will have to play with the losing team in the second semi-final to be played between Japan and America and the winning team of this match will also qualify for the Olympics. India performed brilliantly in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and secured fourth place. But the current team has not been successful in showing a glimpse of that kind of game so far. It is not right for India to concede even a goal in this match.
Winning by a huge margin does not present the correct picture
India may have won by a huge margin over Italy, but this difference of the match does not present the correct picture. In the 40th minute of the game, Italy managed to equalize India before Deepika scored on a penalty stroke.
It is true that Italy does not rank among the very strong teams in hockey. But she was successful in creating panic in the Indian defense by making intermittent attacks. Thank goodness for defenders like Udita and Nikki Pradhan, who kept Italy from equalizing by showing alertness.
The reason Italy kept struggling to equalize was that India maintained a lead of only one goal till the tenth minute of the third quarter. But as soon as the Indian team scored the second goal, Italy’s game fell apart and India was successful in dominating the game completely. India needs to learn a lesson from this and strengthen its lead over the rival team as soon as possible.
Udita made her hundredth match memorable
This was the hundredth international match of Indian defender Udita and she played an important role in India’s victory by scoring two goals on penalty corners. Earlier during the match, the team appeared to be able to overcome its weakness of not being able to convert penalty corners into goals. In present times, the role of penalty corners is very important in matches.
There was a lot of tightness in the Indian defense in this match. Udita, Nikki Pradhan and Monica were seen defending very intelligently. Udita later said about the tightness in the Indian defence, that we all worked on the flaws seen in the defense in the first match and its effect was seen against New Zealand and in this match.
We have to keep in mind that the Italy team is not going to create very fast attacks, but the team will need to have a better defense against Germany. Yes, it is certain that the way Salima Tete, Sangeeta Kumari and Navneet Kaur adopted an attacking stance in the last 20 minutes and kept the finish correct, a similar performance can sail through against Germany.
Goal scoring ability needs to be increased
It is true that India had the target of a general victory over Italy, so there was not much problem. But if India needed to win by a big margin, the team would not have been able to overcome the finishing shown in this match.
The Indian team controlled the ball most of the time but the team is proving to be a little weak in terms of scoring goals. India may have to suffer the consequences of this weakness when it faces Germany in the semi-finals.
Actually the problem is that the Indian players kept making attacks continuously but these attacks could not be converted into goals because our players were not able to show the intelligence required after reaching the circle. In the true sense, if India had used the attacks properly, their one-goal lead at half-time could have been at least three goals.
The one who created the difficulty made the path easy
The Indian women’s hockey team made its path to the semi-finals a little easier even before entering the last match of Pool B. The one that made India’s path easier is the same American team, which had faced difficulties by getting an unexpected victory in the first match. The United States defeated New Zealand 1–0 in its last match, almost eliminating it from the race for the semi-finals.
After America’s third consecutive win, India needed only a draw in the last match against Italy to make it to the semi-finals.
On one hand, America eased India’s path to the semi-finals, while on the other hand, by being on top in Pool-B, it also increased India’s problems. America being on top with 9 points means that India is assured of playing the semi-finals with Germany, the highest ranked team of this tournament.
Need some improvement in passing also
It is true that India won against Italy by a huge margin. But many times it was seen that while India was attacking, the ball went into the hands of the rival players due to a wrong pass by the Indian players.
Not only this, many times the Italian players were successful in intercepting his passes. Italy was not a team that could take advantage of such mistakes. But both Germany and Japan are such teams which are adept at turning the tables by taking advantage of such mistakes. Therefore there is a need to work in this direction also.
But one good thing seen in this match was that the team saved itself from wrong tackling, due to which the players got only two green cards in the match. But such performance can make the team successful even in a pressure match.