India’s women’s hockey team put up a superb performance in its 1-0 victory over Australia in the quarter-final match at Tokyo 2020. The world No 9 side was solid in defence and made its way to the last four of the Olympics for the first time.

India’s best performance at the Olympics came way back in the 1980 Moscow Games where they finished fourth out of six teams. In that edition of the Games, women’s hockey made its debut in the Olympics and the sport was played in a round-robin format, with the top two teams qualifying for the final.

Riding a wave of confidence and self-belief after the momentous victory against Australia, India have now firmly set their sights on the all-important semi-final encounter against Argentina on Wednesday.

Much like the Indian team, Argentina have also gone from strength to strength in the competition, securing a semi-final berth after a convincing 3-0 victory against Germany in the quarter-final on Monday.

India will count on their recent experience of playing against the Argentinians during their extensive tour of the South American country in January 2021.

Speaking ahead of the semi-final encounter, India captain Rani Rampal said: “We were extremely happy with our team performance against Australia, who are a world-class hockey team. However, there is not much time to look back, and our focus is fully on the semi-final against Argentina.

“At this stage of the competition, matches do not get any easier, and we are going to give everything we have on the field.”

Rani referred to India’s recent tour of Argentina as one of the factors that could play a role heading into the match.

“Both teams will be relatively familiar with each other’s style of play as we faced each other in a few matches earlier in the year. Having said that, an Olympic semi-final is a completely different equation, and no tour game can recreate the same kind of intensity and atmosphere. This is surely the toughest test that our team will face. We are feeling confident about our games and have the necessary self-belief to put our best foot forward,” she said.

India coach Sjoerd Marijne said his team will try to focus on the task and stay in the moment in the all-important clash.

“It will be a difficult match for us, I think Argentina is a good team. We played them in January and we know that Argentina is a hard team to beat. Their defence is very strong. We have to convert our goal-scoring opportunities like we converted the Penalty Corner against Australia,” he said.

“It’s all about focussing on the task and staying in the moment and being busy with what we have to do well ourselves. I have told all the girls again that it’s about putting all the energy you have in the match.”

India’s semi-final clash with Argentina will start at 3.30 pm IST on Wednesday, August 4.