A day after the Indian men’s hockey team won their first Olympic medal in 41 years, the women’s team has a chance to win their first-ever medal when they take on Great Britain in the bronze medal match at the Tokyo Games on Friday.
Rani Rampal and Co played their hearts out against Argentina on Wednesday, but couldn’t get past the world No 2 side in what was their first-ever Olympic semi-final. But their stunning performance in the quarter-final against Australia means they kept their hopes for a medal alive by reaching the last four.
But the task doesn’t get any easier as they are up against Great Britain who have already beaten India in Tokyo.
Great Britain, the Rio 2016 champions, had subjected India to 1-4 loss in the group stage.
But despite the score-line, it was a close match between world no 11 India and Britain. The difference between the two teams was that India had the better share of chances but Great Britain utilised more opportunities that came their way.
Back then, head coach Sjoerd Marijne had called it his side’s “worst match” of the Olympics and said the players failed to raise their game in the crucial match. But the team turned it around by winning the last two group matches after starting with three straight losses and are now in touching distance of a medal.
To do that, the lessons from the earlier loss to Britain will have to be applied. India had wasted too many chances then, allowing the higher ranked team to get back in the game. India secured as many as eight penalty corners in the match but converted just one. This is one area that has to be improved on.
Marijne though was hopeful of a better show from the team, based on the competitive match against Argentina where India went down by a margin of just one goal.
“We were really competitive against Argentina. It was about converting the small opportunities and we converted a Penalty Corner into a goal. We were very close so the loss is hurting the team very much, but now it’s about recovery and looking forward to the next match,” Marijne was quoted as saying by Hockey India.
“We can still win a medal. I am proud of the way the girls performed against Argentina. They played an Olympic semi-final for the first time and it’s not easy. We played with the right spirit and I am very happy with that,” she added.
Captain Rampal was also confident of a good show. “We have performed really well in this tournament and we still have a chance to win a Medal. We are confident about our individual games and we will give everything we have to win our first Olympic medal. We have a chance to make history on Friday,” she said.
The captain added that the team will look to stay in the moment and focus on executing their plans.
“It’ll be all about staying in the moment for us. We have to follow our processes and if we execute our plans properly, we will be able to get a good result in the bronze medal match. We defeated Great Britain in our last encounter against them in February 2020 so we will take a lot of confidence from that match,” she added.
The match will begin at 7 AM IST.