New Delhi, October 9: Deepika (5’) and Sushila Chanu Pukhrambam (50’) scored a goal in each half as India piped Japan 2-1 to clinch the Bronze medal at the 19th Asian Games Women's Hockey Tournament in Hangzhou on Saturday. For Japan, Captain Yuri Nagai (30’) netted the lone goal.
For this superb win,iHockey India announced a prize of Rs 3.00 Lakhs to each player of the Team and Rs 1.50 Lakhs to each support staff.
This was India’s fourth women’s hockey bronze medal at the Asian Games after Seoul 1986, Doha 2006 and Incheon 2014. Indian women, whose only gold medal at the continental showpiece came at New Delhi in 1982, had won a silver at the last edition at Jakarta 2018.
Earlier, India seventh in the FIH rankings, topped Pool A with three wins and one draw to make the semi-finals. Savita Punia led side however, lost 0-4 to hosts China in the top-four encounter to enter the bronze medal match.
The bronze medal match turned out to be a tale of two quarters. India came off the blocks quickly and took the lead five minutes into the match. After an infringement from a penalty corner, India was awarded a penalty stroke and Deepika made no mistakes putting it away (1-0),
India created more opportunities and could’ve extended its lead in the first quarter itself but some indecisiveness by their forwards in the opposition half meant Japan were behind by just one goal as the quarter ended.
The second quarter, however, belonged to Japan, who laid seize on the Indian defence in waves. It took some last-minute interventions from Sushila Chanu and goalkeeper Savita Punia to safeguard India’s lead but the resistance was finally broken with the final play of the quarter. Captain Nagai Yuri deflected a penalty corner in from close range to ensure her team went into half-time on level terms(1-1).
The third quarter turned out to be a scrappy affair with neither team managing to create any meaningful chances. Right towards the end of the quarter, Lalremsiami found herself through on goal but shot wide,
With the bronze medal at stake, India took the early initiative in the final quarter. Vaishnavi Vittal showcased some brilliant stickwork to win India a penalty corner but squandered a golden opportunity to send India ahead from the resulting set play..
However, the Indians 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.
The goal settled Indian nerves and Janneke Schopman’s charges showcased some sensible hockey to see off the match.
Congratulating the 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."