9.45 pm: Four goals in Q4 for Indian men as a tired Russia finally buckled. India win 11-3 on aggregate. The men’s team are headed to Tokyo too! In contrast, the Indian women scored just one goal in Q4 but that was all that was needed. All in all, a delightful weekend for Indian hockey. Thanks for joining us over the four matches.
FULL-TIME India 7-1 Russia (aggregate 11-3): GOALLLL INDIA! AMIT ROHIDAS! You got to feel for Russia but this was a stupendous display of attacking hockey from the men in blue. The hooter has gone and India are through to Tokyo 2020.
Q4, India 6-1 Russia (aggregate 10-3): Will India make it 7-1? Another PC for India.
Q4, India 6-1 Russia (aggregate 10-3): GOALL, RUPINDER! Another PC conversion and Rupinder makes no mistake. India have hit Russia for a six.
Q4, India 5-1 Russia (aggregate 9-3): A little over two minutes to go. Russia put together a flowing forward move but India defend well and not concede a PC.
Q4, India 5-1 Russia (aggregate 9-3): Harmanpreet could not score from the PC but India continue to keep possession well. Less than five minutes to go.
Q4, India 5-1 Russia (aggregate 9-3): India continue to push forward as Harmanpreet goes close from a 1-on-1 situation. Lalit soon wins a PC as Russia go down to 10 men. A bigger defeat would be harsh on the visitors but India in no mood to show mercy.
9.27 pm: A cheeky tweet from the women’s head coach!
Q4, India 5-1 Russia (aggregate 9-3): GOALLLL INDIA! Rupinder Pal Singh thumps a drag flick past Gafarov. The one area where they would have liked to show an improvement, the Indians do so. Great PC conversion from the defender. Russia are down and out.
Q4, India 4-1 Russia (aggregate 8-3): PC for India, Russia lose their referral.
Q4, India 4-1 Russia (aggregate 8-3): GOALLLL INDIA! Nilakantha Sharma joins the party... A superb shot from the right leaves Gafarov with no chance. The ball rifles into the roof of the net. Cruising, are the men in blue.
Q4, India 3-1 Russia (aggregate 7-3): Here we go... last 15 mins of the qualifiers for India. Nice and easy will do for the hosts.
END OF Q3, India 3-1 Russia (aggregate 7-3): A goalless quarter comes to an end. Russia did have a few openings to pull one back while Ramandeep must be wondering how he has not scored one for himself yet. Final 15 coming up, with India all but securing their Tokyo 2020 berth.
Q3, India 3-1 Russia (aggregate 7-3): A visibly relaxed women’s team is watching the proceedings from the sidelines. The match is ebbing and flowing at the moment as Ramandeep goes close at least on three occasions.
Q3, India 3-1 Russia (aggregate 7-3): To Russia’s great credit, they have not given up on this yet. The exhaustion is evident but they continue to fashion half chances. There is a good, open feel to this game. Four mins to go in the quarter.
Q3, India 3-1 Russia (aggregate 7-3): Lalit has had a very good game whenever he’s been on the pitch tonight. Ramandeep has a chance to extend India’s lead but his shot is wild too, couldn’t control the bouncing ball. India doing the right thing by not taking the foot off the pedal.
Q3, India 3-1 Russia (aggregate 7-3): CHANCE, RUSSIA! A lovely passing move from the visitors but the shot is over the bar. Tiring limbs on display there again, despite a well-worked move. India continue to look the next likely scorers.
Q3, India 3-1 Russia (aggregate 7-3): India with some good build-up play from their own half to start proceedings. Russia hold strong in defence after a scramble. The visitors are going to tire significantly now, you feel. Expect a few goals from the hosts.
Q3, India 3-1 Russia (aggregate 7-3): Reminder that India will continue to play with 10 men for the time being as Hardik serves his cooling off period for the yellow card. We are back underway...
HALF-TIME, India 3-1 Russia (aggregate 7-3): Fans at the Kalinga Stadium are in good voice now. “We saw a little bit of Bollywood in the first half, need to cut that out. Good response after conceding so early,” says Graham Reid. He must have been referring to the showboating we talked about a few minutes back in this blog.
HALF-TIME, India 3-1 Russia (aggregate 7-3): Russia have come long a way clearly since being thrashed 0-10 at this venue earlier this year but, over 120 minutes of hockey, India’s quality is proving to be telling.
HALF-TIME, India 3-1 Russia (aggregate 7-3): Once again tonight, a team scores after a player is sent off for a few minutes. But this time it is the team that is down to 10 men. Great response from India after conceding so early. Firmly in control thanks to a goal for Lalit and two for Akashdeep.
Q2, India 3-1 Russia (aggregate 7-3): YET AGAIN, AKASHDEEP SCORES! Brilliant from the forward... great stickwork to make himself space from center towards the right channel and fires one in. Great work and that should be it for India.
Q2, India 2-1 Russia (aggregate 6-3): This is what happened in that bizarre passage of play... we are nearing half time and Hardik gets a yellow card.
Q2, India 2-1 Russia (aggregate 6-3): Manpreet loses the referral. Can’t quite understand what he was thinking there but the commentator calls it a silly referral. But India pour forward again.
Q2, India 2-1 Russia (aggregate 6-3): A referral from India after Manpreet goes close to scoring... he missed a tap-in there, to be honest.
Q2, India 2-1 Russia (aggregate 6-3): GOALLLL INDIA! AKASHDEEP SINGH! That should ease India’s nerves a whole lot. The PC results in a good drag flick from Harman but it is saved by Gafarov. The rebound falls to Akashdeep who fires it in from the left. Good response from the Indians and they are in control of the tie once again.
Q2, India 1-1 Russia (aggregate 5-3): Lalit goes close but the angle was against him... and soon after India have another PC. Can they extend their lead?
Q2, India 1-1 Russia (aggregate 5-3): “Lalit nets one for India! Way to celebrate his 100th International Cap,” says a tweet from Hockey India. Nice moment for the forward indeed. Here’s how the goal happened:
Q2, India 1-1 Russia (aggregate 5-3): India are playing with some swagger now (perhaps uncalled for showboating here and there) but Russia are still in this. Good defence by the hosts on the counter.
Q2, India 1-1 Russia (aggregate 5-3): GOALLL INDIA! Lalit levels things up on the night for India after good work from Manpreet Singh and Hardik. The latter fires at goal from left channel and all Lalit had to go was get a little touch on it. India back in front by two goals.
End of Q1, India 0-1 Russia (aggregate 4-3): Huddle-time as Russia get a deserved breather. India recovered well enough after that poor opening to the game. Worth noting that Krishan Pathak has been in goal every time India have conceded. Sreejesh back in goal.
Q1, India 0-1 Russia (aggregate 4-3): You know the Russians have done a good job when the crowd at Kalinga Stadium has largely been quiet. Simranjeet provides some excitement for the fans but his shot is high and wild. Two mins to go.
Q1, India 0-1 Russia (aggregate 4-3): India have settled down after that early jolt and look to be the likely side to score next... and they would dearly hope so too. A PC comes and goes for India. Five mins to go in this quarter.
Q1, India 0-1 Russia (aggregate 4-3): Twice in the first five minutes or so that India have fooled one section of the Kalinga Stadium crowd into thinking they have scored. Good response from the hosts but the goal conceded was really criminal defending from Rupinder and Manpreet.
Q1, India 0-1 Russia (aggregate 4-3): WOOWWWW. RUSSIA GOAL! Sobolevskiy has scored in less than 20 seconds! Indian defence caught napping and the visitors have stunned the crowd at the Kalinga Stadium.
8.10 pm: National anthems done... huddles from both teams. All set for pushback.
8.04 pm: “Get out there and go hard,” is the message from Graham Reid. Simple enough, right? But sports can be funny sometimes...where the simplest things are the hardest to do.
8.02 pm: As we wait for the second leg to start, a special mention must be made for Russian goalkeeper Gafarov’s brilliant game last night. Even in the dying seconds, he came up with three brilliant saves and while Russia still lost 2-4, his saves kept them in the tie. India would know that they weren’t as good as they can be on the day and their challenge would be to find a higher gear on Saturday.
7.58 pm: India men’s coach Graham Reid didn’t mince his words after the first leg.
“I was disappointed with the way our boys played today. I have spoken to them about that. Hopefully, there will be a reaction tomorrow. We can show everyone tomorrow how well we can play,” he had said last night.
7.55 pm: Let’s all take a moment to collect our breaths as we wait for the men’s team to take the field, holding a two-goal advantage against Russia.
7.50 pm: For the first time in the history of Indian hockey, the women’s team has qualified for the Olympics two times in a row. They did it the hard way, but they did it alright! A famous goal for Rani Rampal.
FULL TIME India 1-4 USA (aggregate 6-5): The Indian players take a lap of honour around the Kalinga Stadium as Kelsey Bing (USA goalie) gets the player of the match award. Here are the full-time stats.
FULL TIME India 1-4 USA (aggregate 6-5): She has scored so many goals in India’s wins but ONE GOAL in a 1-4 defeat will mean SO MUCH to Rani Rampal. A 1-0 in the second half of the second leg....and Indian women are going to Tokyo! Spare a thought for the USA team... what a stunning fightback. Heartbreak for them.
FULL TIME India 1-4 USA (aggregate 6-5): RANI RAMPAL AND CO ARE GOING TO TOKYO!
Q4, India 1-4 USA (aggregate 6-5): LAST 10 SECONDS. India ball...
Q4, India 1-4 USA (aggregate 6-5): Pressure from USA down the left, Sharkey trying her darndest. Free hit India and they go aerial. Back come USA. 25 seconds to go.
Q4, India 1-4 USA (aggregate 6-5): Great work by Neha down the right flank... but back come USA again. 70 seconds left and it’s India ball.
Q4, India 1-4 USA (aggregate 6-5): The Americans dictating tempo now,... that’s not good news for India. But the defenders are putting their bodies on the line. Massive two minutes coming up.
Q4, India 1-4 USA (aggregate 6-5): Good referral, free hit to India and they keep the referral. Less than four mins to go. Back we go again....
Q4, India 1-4 USA (aggregate 6-5): Referral now by India, after a PC is given to USA. Like London buses, two referrals in no time after none all night.
Q4, India 1-4 USA (aggregate 6-5): Did Gurjit impede Manley intentionally? Replays after replays...tight one, this. The initial contact was outside the circle! Free hit for USA but the visitors lose referral. That’s good news for India, all said. Sharkey cannot understand why her team has lost the referral.
Q4, India 1-4 USA (aggregate 6-5): Referral from USA for a PC after a run into the circle by Manley. First time we have gone upstairs tonight. Four mins left.
Q4, India 1-4 USA (aggregate 6-5): Irrespective of how this turns out, full credit to the USA. No one could have thought the aggregate would be 5-5 at the start of Q4. But they are still very much in contention with 5 mins left. Not giving up yet, not by any stretch.
Q4, India 1-4 USA (aggregate 6-5): India needed a hero and who else could it be. Rani Rampal stepped up when needed. BUT... it’s not over. USA are still very much in this. Pressure from the visitors. Seven mins to go.
Q4, India 1-4 USA (aggregate 6-5): The hosts continue to stay on the front foot. USA under more pressure. This is thrilling stuff.
Q4, India 1-4 USA (aggregate 6-5): RANI RAMPAL SCORES! WHAT A FINISH! Scramble in the box and the ball falls to the captain at the edge of the circle and she fires one into the roof of the net. SUPERB GOAL! MASSIVE GOAL!
Q4, India 0-4 USA (aggregate 5-5): YELLOW CARD USA. The Americans down to 10 for five minutes. Costly?
Q4, India 0-4 USA (aggregate 5-5): Patient possession from India at the start of the final quarter. USA happy to sit back and counter. Interesting to see which tactic is going to pay off.
Q4, India 0-4 USA (aggregate 5-5): Here we go... final quarter.
End of Q3, India 0-4 USA (aggregate 5-5): That was a nervy 15 minutes of hockey but Marijne must be glad his side did not concede but the penalty corner conversion could have been better. FIFTEEN MINS TO DECIDE WHO GOES TO THE OLYMPICS.
Q3, India 0-4 USA (aggregate 5-5): Saved again by the USA defence and there is a counterattack on. Gurjit’s shot was on target and that is actually a top drawer save from Kelsey Bing with her right foot. Monika tracks back well to prevent the counter from becoming a goal.
Q3, India 0-4 USA (aggregate 5-5): Another PC India... more pressure from the hosts. Could they convert this time around? They need to, you feel.
Q3, India 0-4 USA (aggregate 5-5): CLOSE! Gurjit with a low drag flick but it is going wide all the time, close at it ultimately was. Too much angle on it. Golden chance goes begging.
Q3, India 0-4 USA (aggregate 5-5): Cheers from the crowd... Sharmila wins a PC for India. Can Gurjit step up?
Q3, India 0-4 USA (aggregate 5-5): More Indian pressure in USA territory as the visitors defend in numbers. Neither side seems to want to commit the next mistake, right now.
Q3, India 0-4 USA (aggregate 5-5): Navneet and Vandana with some good play down the right. USA being pushed back. Better from India.
Q3, India 0-4 USA (aggregate 5-5): More intent from India to start Q3. Desperate times. But USA still seem to be the better team in open play.
Q3, India 0-4 USA (aggregate 5-5): Cagey start to the second half. But India continue to be lose in possession. Cannot keep doing that.
Q3, India 0-4 USA (aggregate 5-5): The visiting coach sums up that half. What changed, she’s asked. Nothing, she says. Adds that this could have well been the score at half-time last night as well. Here we go for Q3.
HALF-TIME, India 0-4 USA (aggregate 5-5): Possession says 50-50 but it sure did not feel that way. Remember, as it stands we are heading for a shootout. Here we go, Q3 is upon us.
HALF-TIME, India 0-4 USA (aggregate 5-5): Reminder that India will still be down to 10 at the start of Q3. Navneet serving time out for her yellow card.
HALF-TIME, India 0-4 USA (aggregate 5-5): This Indian team has shown the ability to step up in the second half but can they recover from the jolt? This might just be a step too far if they don’t find an early response in Q3. The match has slipped away big time.
HALF-TIME, India 0-4 USA (aggregate 5-5): What a half it has been for the USA — they have been relentless. India have had no answers. No answers at all. 5-5 on aggregate now. Plenty of high-fives as the Americans head back in for half time while Indian players look shell-shocked. 30 minutes left in this tie. Marijne must make his players believe the match starts now.
Q2, India 0-4 USA (aggregate 5-5): THE USA ARE ON THE CHARGE! WOW. JUST WOW. Magadan with a stunning reverse hit, with her back facing the goal. Savita is beaten. USA ARE LEVEL!
Q2, India 0-3 USA (aggregate 5-4): Oh dear, it’s getting messy at the moment. Navneet is given a yellow card. Five minutes out of the game.
Q2, India 0-3 USA (aggregate 5-4): Now Moyer gets a green card. Both teams down to 10.
Q2, India 0-3 USA (aggregate 5-4): Sushila gets a green card. India down to 10 for 2 minutes. USA will look to pounce again. Not looking good for the hosts at the moment.
Q2, India 0-3 USA (aggregate 5-4): India continue to lose possession when trying to build from midfield. The half-time, it seems, cannot come soon enough for hosts. Major shake-up needed. Six minutes to go in Q2.
Q2, India 0-3 USA (aggregate 5-4): PC for India... much-needed! But USA clear the danger after a mad scramble. Another PC for India and this time the drag flick is wide from Gurjit. Better from the hosts.
Q2, India 0-3 USA (aggregate 5-4): GOAL USA! Oh dear, oh dear. Game is well and truly on. Alyssa Parker has scored USA’s third. This time a field goal after build-up from the right. India are stunned. The move again came from India losing possession carelessly.
Q2, India 0-2 USA (aggregate 5-3): The midfield has not linked up with the forwards for India at all. Rani Rampal has largely been absent. Something needs to change for the hosts as Marijne looks on with concern. USA come again now...
Q2, India 0-2 USA (aggregate 5-3): India continue to lose possession carelessly. They have simply not settled down. And then, after a while, a good attacking move by the hosts down the right. The crowd roars in anticipation but USA clear the danger.
END OF Q1, India 0-2 USA (aggregate 5-3): Cat among the pigeons for India, says the commentator. That sums it up, if you are an Indian fan. Just like yesterday, USA started superbly but this time around they have the lead to show for it. India barely threatened at the other end, the Americans have been super sharp from the word go.
Q1, India 0-2 USA (aggregate 5-3): CAPTAIN (of) AMERICA STRIKES! Kathleen Sharkey is given the goal after a brilliant passing move down the left. Matson once again heavily involved. Indian defence looking shaky.
Q1, India 0-1 USA (aggregate 5-2): Marijne hoped for a better start from India, he hasn’t seen that. India must not sit back too early, that will be recipe for disaster. The game is opening up at both ends, as we say that.
Q1, India 0-1 USA (aggregate 5-2): CHANCE, USA! Once again, the Indian defence is left scrambling but this time Lilima clears well after sustained pressure from the visitors. USA come back again at India, the whistle comes to India’s rescue. This is so nervy from the hosts.
Q1, India 0-1 USA (aggregate 5-2): Matson loses the ball deep in India’s half and the hosts put together a lovely passing move on the counter but the final ball from Lalremsiami is overhit. USA come back again...
Q1, India 0-1 USA (aggregate 5-2): GOALLL USA!!! Well, well. That’s the dream start for USA. A superb variation from the PC and Amanda Magadan produces a stunning poacher’s finish to put USA ahead. It was hit powerfully with the angle from the left, the American got her stick to it on time. Game on?
Q1, India 0-0 USA: Already their PC for the night... can the USA do better?
Q1, India 0-0 USA: Good charging by Deep Grace, but USA have another PC. And USA miss a big chance on rebound! Looks like Matson mishit with the goal gaping.
Q1, India 0-0 USA: PC TIME! Three minutes in, we have the first Penalty Corner of the night. USA with the chance to put India under pressure.
Milestone alert: India’s MONIKA gets her 150th International Cap tonight. Another one with a wealth of experience in this Indian line-up.
Q1, India 0-0 USA: Early pressure down the left from Sharkey’s team. Understandable early initiative shown. India are playing in white again today, USA have changed from red to blue in hope of a change in fortunes, presumably.
Q1, India 0-0 USA: Pushback in Odisha!
6.11 pm: We are all set! Kalinga Stadium in readiness, as history beckons for Indian women.
6.07 pm: Sjoerd Marijne admits his side has to start this match much better than they did yesterday’s encounter. USA coach and Marijne’s compatriot Schopman wants her side to fight for every second of this match after admitting to being super disappointed with the result last night.
6.06 pm: The players are out in the middle and it’s time for the national anthems!
6.02 pm: Here’s a quick recap of yesterday’s match:
5.59 pm: There was enough evidence in the first half of the first leg that Kathleen Sharkey’s team can trouble this Indian defence. Savita Punia was forced to make a few saves early on. If Rani and Co decide to sit back too early, there might be trouble. The first 15 minutes are going to be mighty crucial.
5.54 pm: Rani Rampal was declared the player of the match after the first leg even though she did not score a goal. The captain was at the heart of India’s forward-play and she will once again be crucial tonight. Will be interesting to see coach Sjoerd Marijne’s tactics.
5.48 pm: First leg — India women beat USA women 5-1
The Indian team was slow to start the game and it was USA that dominated the early proceedings. The visitors moved the ball around better and the hosts did just enough to stay in the game.
The better chances fell to the USA team but they failed to finish well. It was a failing that came back to haunt them as India, against the run of play, went ahead in the 28th minute. The goal clearly gave the Indian team a huge boost and it showed in the second half. Starting with the second goal in the 40th minute, India scored four goals in 11 minutes to completely dismantle the USA challenge.
5.45 pm: For the record, USA will need to win by a 4-goal margin to force a penalty shootout or a 5-goal margin to register an outright win and qualify for the Olympics. Safe to say, India are strong favourites to go through.
5.40 pm: Here’s a look at the starting line-up for India, who come into the match with a solid 5-1 lead. No real surprises there. Expect Lalremsiami to feature aplenty despite not being in the starting XI.
5.25 pm: Hello all and welcome to the live coverage of the FIH Hockey Olympic Qualifiers! India men’s and women’s team play their second leg matches today after contrasting performances in the first leg on Friday.
Indian women’s hockey team took a giant leap towards Olympic qualification with a near-flawless performance to hammer USA 5-1 in the first-leg of the two-match FIH Qualifiers in their first match at the Kalinga Stadium while the men put in a lackluster display despite managing to beat Russia 4-2.
It was expected to be a tricky tie for the hosts but Rani Rampal and Co punched above their weight to simply demolish USA’s challenge in front of the energetic crowd at the Kalinga Stadium.
Dragflicker Gurjit Kaur (42nd and 51st) struck brace while Lilima Minz (28th), Sharmila Devi (40th) and Navneet Kaur (46th) were the other scorers.USA’s consolation goal came from a penalty stroke converted by Erin Matson in the 54th minute.
Ranked ninth in the world, India now need to defend their four-goal advantage in Saturday’s second and final-leg to seal their Tokyo 2020 ticket.
Later, Mandeep Singh struck twice as a below-par India struggled past underdogs Russia 4-2 in the first-leg.
Mandeep (24th, 53rd minutes) scored two field goals while Harmanpreet Singh (5th) and SV Sunil (48th) also hit the target for India.
It was expected to be a ‘David vs Goliath’ contest going by the class and vast gap in world rankings between the two teams but world No 22 Russia dished out a fighting effort to surprise the hosts and keep the difference of goals to just two. World No 5 India still can’t breath easy as Russia clearly showed they are capable of creating an upset in the second and final match on Saturday.