India’s women’s hockey team would like to keep the horrific ‘watch’ controversy behind their back while eyeing a podium finish against New Zealand in a bronze medal match at the Commonwealth Games on Sunday. A wrong timekeeping move by a technical official during the penalty shootout robbed India of India’s opportunity as Australia thrashed the Savita Punia-led side 3-0 by one-on-one. At the end of regulation time, both the teams were tied 1-1.
Rosie Malone foiled Australia’s first attempt in a penalty shoot-out as India skipper Savita pulled off an excellent block.
But Malone got a second chance after a timekeeping error by the officials and this time the striker scored to change the pace of the game.
Going into Sunday’s crucial game, mental adjustment will be crucial for the Indians as they aim for a historic fourth-place finish at the Tokyo Olympics, a year after losing 3-4 to Great Britain.
Vice-captain Deep Grace Ekka told PTI, “Whatever happened yesterday was unfortunate and shocking but we have to come again. This is another chance for us to clinch a Commonwealth medal.”
Vandana Katariya scored a goal on Saturday to help India bounce back and draw 1-1 against the mighty Aussie to take the match into a shoot-out.
“Everyone was very sad. It’s obvious. But now, the next match is very important for us. We all have to move on and come back strong. We have time. It’s a do or die for us and we’re going to do it. Will give the best,” said India captain Savita. Savita was at her best, especially as Australia were denied a penalty corner in the final leg of the match.
The key to the Indian attack will once again be his star forward Vandana.
Head coach Jeanneke Schopmann had high hopes for the pairing of Savita and Vandana as the Dutch double Olympic medalist insisted on playing the team game.
“Savi is a very good goalkeeper. Today, she showed that she has the ability to stop balls which can be some goals. I know she can do that. I know our team has a lot of faith in her too. I must say that the defenders also played a very good game. We defended very well as a team.
“One (Vandana’s nickname) is often the last station. In this case, Sushila had a good slap and the van was in the right place. We are working hard on it,” he said.
The 45-year-old specialist strategist said, “It could be Van or it could be other players. Van is very important in the sense that she is a very brave player and she makes sure that if she can score a goal, she will do.” ,
Winners of the 2002 edition of Manchester, the Indian women last won a CWG medal in 2014, a silver before finishing fourth in the Gold Coast.
India were at their best at the World Cup in July this year to lose 3-4 in their last meeting against New Zealand.
Australia will face hosts England in the final on Sunday.
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