The Indian women’s hockey team registered a thrilling 6-3 victory in the 2024 FIH Hockey5s Women’s World Cup semi-final against South Africa on Friday.
Akshata Abaso Dhekale (7’), Mariana Kujur (11’), Mumtaz Khan (21’), Rutuja Dadaso Pisal (23’), Jyoti Chhatri (25’), Ajima Kujur (26’) scored for India. Meanwhile, Teshawn De La Rey (5’), captain Toni Marks (8’), and Dirkie Chamberlain (29’) were on target for South Africa.
South Africa began the first half with a disciplined defence, waiting for a chance to threaten the Indian goal. The game's first chance fell to South Africa but Indian goalkeeper Rajani Etimarpu remained vigilant in goal.
As India struggled to create chances, it was a close-range reverse shot from South Africa’s De La Rey that granted them the lead in the contest. Pisal looked to restore parity soon after but her shot sailed wide of the post.
As India looked to equalise it was Dhekale who stepped into the last quarter of the pitch and let fly a bullet to beat South Africa’s goalie Grace Cochrane and bring India on level terms.
However, the respite was short-lived as South Africa’s captain Marks picked up a pass, dodged the keeper and found the back of the net to grant her team the lead again. India remained determined to get back on level terms and it wasn’t long before Mariana unleashed a rocket after chaos in front of the South African goal to make it 2-2.
South Africa started stronger in the second half, forcing Etimarpu into action once again but India remained resolute in defence.
As the game progressed, Pisal found herself in front of the South African goal, with the keeper charging, she found Mumtaz who passed the ball into the net to give India the lead in the contest. Pisal continued her excellent form as she shot past the keeper, off a deflected pass to double India’s lead.
With South Africa pushing for a goal India looked to attack on the counter. With five minutes left in the game, Chhatri took a shot on goal under pressure which beat South Africa’s keeper Cochrane and extended the team’s lead.
As the game wound towards the end, it was Ajmina who took a confident shot from close to the half line to make it 6-2 in India’s favour. With a minute left to play, Chamberlain capitalized on a goal-mouth melee to score South Africa’s third goal.
India will now face the Netherlands in the final on January 28 at 9.50PM IST.