The Indian women’s hockey team were game for a tough fight in the semi-final of Tokyo Olympics 2020 before they went down 2-1 to Argentina on Wednesday. Like their men’s counterparts, Rani Rampal’s girls have lined up a bronze play-off - but both teams have achieved enough to bring the romance of their ‘national game’ back in the psyche of Indian sports fans.
Gurjit Kaur, who scored the match-winner in their sensational quarter final win against Australia, gave India the lead early in the match by converting a penalty corner. Argentina hit back in the second quarter via their captain Noel Barrionuevo, who struck again in the third quarter to take a crucial lead.
India came back hard in the final 15 minutes but Argentina’s experience helped them to hold onto a selnder lead. Argentina will now take on Netherlands in the gold medal match on Friday while India will face off against Great Britain for the third place play-off (5.30 am UAE).
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Meanwhile, Manpreet Singh’s men will vie to bounce back from the shattering 5-2 semi-final loss to Belgium when they take on Germany in the bronze medal play-off on Thursday (5.30 am UAE).
“I think we should just forget about what happened in the semi-final and just put all our focus and energy into the game against Germany. The team has the experience of playing them in recent times. We are ready for the challenge,” said skipper Manpreet.
“We have the entire country’s support. We even had the Prime Minister calling us after the semi-final loss. He asked us to not feel disappointed and just look forward to playing well on Thursday and that’s what we plan to do. We are pumped up for the game,” said one of India’s flagbearer at the opening ceremony.
Men’s Chief Coach Graham Reid, meanwhile, introspected on the Belgium match and expressed that the team paid the price for not converting opportunities early in the game. “At 2-1, we created a lot of opportunities and really we should have converted. We couldn’t get that scoreboard pressure to go to 3-1. When it was 2-2 also, we had the opportunity to go 3-2.
‘‘The number of opportunities at that time, we didn’t get that scoreboard pressure back on Belgium. There were a few periods of play when we lost the ball and they scored and we spiralled a little bit after that’’rued Reid.
In their recent tour to Europe in February this year, Indian team played Germany in two back-to-back matches where they win 6-1 in the first match then drew 1-1.
Neeraj Chopra in javelin final
India’s Neeraj Chopra, the 2018 Commonwealth champion, went through to the final of the men’s javelin with his first throw of the morning at 86.65 metres, while world leader Germany’s Johannes Vetter also advanced.
They will be joined by Finland’s Lassi Etel”.Otalo, whose first attempt of 84.50m, a season’s best, granted him passage to the medal round.
Pakistan’s Arshad Nadeem finished above Webber and Vadlejch to win his group and a place in the medal round with an 85.16 throw.