New Delhi, June 11:Riding on Sunelita Toppo's 47th-minute goal, India piped hosts Japan 1-0 to set up a title clash with Korea in the Women’s Junior Hockey Asia Cup in Kakamigahara, Gifu Prefecture, Japan on Saturday. In other semifinals, Korea beat China 2-0.
India will compete in the Final for the second time, having previously reached the summit clash in 2012.
With these semifinal victories, India and Korea have also qualified for the Junior Women's World Cup to be held in Santiago, Chile from 29 November to December 10,
India was on the offensive from the very start and played a pressing game to put Japan under pressure. However, the hosts not only defended well firm to prevent their Rivals from taking an early lead, but they also began creating scoring opportunities with counterattacks. The hosts also won a couple of penalty corners but failed to convert them.
The second quarter was well contested with both teams attacking relentlessly to break the deadlock. Japan came close to scoring a couple of times but India’s goalkeeper Madhuri Kindo made some fine saves to deny the hosts from finding the back of the net. Notably, neither India nor Japan was able to score in the second quarter.
The third quarter witnessed Japan keeping the possession and making more attacks to keep India on back foot. However, the Indian team got the perfect opportunity to take the lead when they were awarded a penalty stroke, but they failed to capitalize on it. Despite making several chances, both teams were still unsuccessful in finding the back of the net as the third quarter also ended goallessly.
The fourth quarter started with India dominating the game and it paid off when Sunelita Toppo (47’) scored a brilliant goal to give her team a much-needed 1-0 lead.
After taking the lead, India shifted their focus on keeping possession while playing more aggressively to deny Japan from drawing the parity and the strategy paid dividends as the hosts failed to get the elusive equalizer.