Indian women’s hockey team beat Japan 2-1 to win Bronze medal at Asian Games

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Hangzhou, October 7 (IANS) The Indian Women's Hockey Team on Saturday registered a brilliant 2-1 win over Japan to clinch the Bronze medal at the 19th Asian Games Hangzhou 2022. This is India's fourth Bronze medal in Women's Field Hockey at the Asian Games. Deepika (5’) and Sushila Chanu Pukhrambam (50’) scored a goal each for the Indian team, while for Japan, Captain Yuri Nagai (30’) netted the lone goal.

For their impressive performance and the podium finish, Hockey India announced a prize of R 3 Lakh to each player of the Indian Women's Hockey Team and R 1.50 Lakh to each support staff.

The match started with Japan prioritizing ball possession, whereas India immediately went on the offensive. This aggressive approach paid off as they earned a penalty stroke, expertly converted by Deepika (5’) thus granting her team an early advantage. India also managed to secure three penalty corners within the first 15 minutes, but unfortunately, they couldn't capitalize on them. As the first quarter concluded, India held a 1-0 lead.

The second quarter witnessed Japan increasing the frequency of their attacks in order to find an equaliser, while India shifted their focus on keeping possession and counter-attacking to keep the pressure on Japan. While India’s strategy worked to some extent, it was Japan who somehow managed to bounce back in the game with their Captain Yuri Nagai (30’) scoring through the penalty corner in the very last second of the second quarter to put her team on level terms as the score was tied at 1-1 at the halftime break.  

During the second quarter, Japan intensified their offensive efforts in their quest for an equalizer. Meanwhile, India adjusted their approach by prioritizing ball retention and launching counterattacks to maintain pressure on Japan. India's strategy showed some effectiveness, but it was Japan's Captain, Yuri Nagai (30') who managed to stage a comeback for her team by scoring a crucial goal from a penalty corner in the very last second of the second quarter as both teams headed into halftime break with the score tied at 1-1.

High on confidence after scoring the equaliser, Japan came out all guns blazing in the third quarter but the Indian team not only stood strong in defence to negate the attack but also kept checking Japan’s defence at regular intervals to put the pressure back on their opponents.

Fuelled by their confidence from equalizing, Japan unleashed a relentless offensive onslaught in the third quarter. However, the Indian team not only displayed formidable defensive prowess to thwart Japan's attacks but also consistently tested Japan's defense to put pressure back on their opponents. However, neither of the two teams was able to find the back of the net as the score remained tied at 1-1 at the end of the penultimate quarter.

Desperate to take lead in the game, India began the fourth quarter on an attacking note and also won an early penalty corner but Vice Captain Deep Grace Ekka’s shot was saved by Japan’s goalkeeper Eika Nakamura. However, the Indian team continued to keep the pressure on Japan by attacking relentlessly and it paid off when India came up with a superb variation after winning a penalty corner and Sushila Chanu Pukhrambam (50’) smartly placed the ball inside the goal after receiving a pass from Deep Grace Ekka to give India a 2-1 lead.

Despite taking the lead, the Indian team continued to play offensive, and that earned them consecutive penalty corners, but they were unable to capitalise on them. In the meantime, Japan began counter-attacking in search of an equaliser, but the Indian team stood strong in defence to deny their opponents any chance of bouncing back as they went on to win the match 2-1.

Congratulating the Indian team for their impressive win, Hockey India president Dilip Tirkey said, "On behalf of Hockey India, I extend my heartfelt congratulations to the Indian Women's Hockey Team for their outstanding performance and winning the Bronze medal at the 19th Asian Games Hangzhou 2022. Your dedication and hard work have made the nation proud, and this achievement is a testament to your unwavering commitment to the sport of hockey. Keep shining, and we look forward to more remarkable victories in the future."

Hockey India secretary general Bhola Nath Singh added, "It gives me immense pleasure to congratulate the Indian Women's Hockey Team for their remarkable achievement in securing the Bronze medal at the 19th Asian Games Hangzhou 2022. Your resilience and teamwork have been exceptional, and your success is a source of inspiration for aspiring hockey players across the country. We are proud of your achievement and look forward to even greater accomplishments in the days ahead. Well done!"