India women survive USA scare to qualify for 2020 Tokyo Olympics


Bhubaneswar: India women booked their berth in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics as they pipped USA 6-5 on aggregate despite losing the match of FIH Qualifier at Kalinga Hockey Stadium here on Saturday.

Indian Women’s Hockey Team has now qualified for back-to-back Olympics having sealed it in Rio de Janeiro after a gap of 36 years. The women’s team first participated in the Quadrennial extravaganza in 1980 where the men’s team last won their gold medal.

Indian women looked a pale shadow of themselves as the USA took full advantage of their complacency during the first two quarters.

Amanda Magadan (5th, 28th minutes), skipper Kathleen Sharkey (14th) and Alyssa Parker (20th) scored for the visiting side. However, the fans went into raptures when Rani pulled one back to maintain the slender lead till the final hooter.

The Indians played catch-up hockey and found it difficult to counter the USA’s persistent attacks from the onset. It was a completely different scenario from Friday’s match as the Indians were found wanting, struggling to get the control of the ball.

Pushed to the wall after being forced to recover from a four-goal deficit following the 1-5 defeat in the first-leg on Friday, the American girls meant business from the onset as they not only dominated the proceedings in the first quarter but also pumped in two goals to stun the home team.

Moments after India’s Navneet Kaur was shown a yellow card, the USA created a chance for Amanda Magadan, who made absolutely no mistake, smashing powerfully into the bottom left corner for her second goal of the game to wipe out the four-goal deficit.

After the change of ends, India showed signs of coming back into the game, but the USA defended in numbers and to keep the hosts at bay as the third quarter ended with the visitors leading 4-0 and the aggregate scoreline standing at 5-5.

India secured a penalty corner in the 43rd minute but Gurjit’s flick once again failed to trouble USA goalkeeper Kelsey Bing. The Americans were awarded a penalty corner four minutes from full time but the decision was overturned after India went for the referral.

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