India Women Hockey had a poor start to Tokyo Olympics as they were thrashed by a big margin of 5-1 by World No.1 Netherlands in their opening match. The Rani Rampal-led team then lost 2-0 against another potent team of Germany though they showed great character throughout the game and also played well in patches.
When the Women in Blue lost against Great Britain by 4-1, it seemed the end of the road for them in the Tokyo Olympics. However, the Indian team showed great courage and character to register a 1-0 win against Ireland and defeated South Africa by 4-3 to keep themselves alive in the quadrennial event.
India needed a bit of luck on their side and they got it when Great Britain defeated Ireland 2-0 and thus the Women in Blue were able to seal their place in the quarterfinal. However, not many had put their money on Rani Rampal and Co. when they had to take on the mighty Australian team, which had a 5-0 record in the Group B of Tokyo Olympics.
However, Indian Women pulled a rabbit out of the hat when they stunned Australia by 1-0 in the quarterfinal after Gurjit Kaur scored in the 22nd minute of the game through a penalty corner.
Rani Rampal, the team’s captain, lauded the courage and mindset which her team showed to bounce back after losing the opening games.
“I am super proud of the team, especially each individual player. Before the game, we just said one thing to each other, give it all that you have then we will see what will happen, just don’t focus on the semi-final or final. We just concentrated on sixty minutes and we put all our energy and focus on our jobs,” Rani Rampal told reporters after the match.
“By scoring the goal in the first half and then defending it especially against a team like Australia is not easy. We played as a team and according to the plan of our coaches.”
“When we entered the tournament, everyone thought our pool was tough and it was tough. After losing opening matches with such margins it’s not easy to come back in the tournament and it needs a lot of courage and mindset.
“The first half against the Netherlands gave us a lot of confidence and after the Great Britain match, we all were crying because not that we lost the match but because we didn’t follow the plan. We are in the semis now and it’s an open game now. We will celebrate for a little while today and will focus on the next game.”
India will face Argentina in the semifinal of Tokyo Olympics.