Women's Hockey: Vandana Katariya's three goals help India pip South Africa 4-3 at Tokyo Olympics
New Delhi, July 31, 2021
Riding on Vandana Katariya's three goals, India pipped spirited South Africa 4-3, to complete their Pool A league engagements with two wins and keep their quarter-finals hopes alive in the women's hockey competition of the Tokyo Olympics in the Japanese capital on Saturday.
India's place in the knock-out stage of the tournament depends on the match between Ireland and Great Britain. If Great Britain defeat Ireland or draw the game, India will go through to the quarter-finals with a fourth-place finish in Pool A.
Once again, it was a tale of poor finishing as the Indians failed to convert the openings that came their way and had to agonizingly wait till the 49th minute for the winner.
Katariya (4', 17', 49') and Neha (32') found the target net for the winners that helped their team clinch 3 crucial points in the competition.
India began attacking from the start and earned a penalty corner in the opening minutes of the game. However, it was muffed.
Moments later, Navneet Kaur made a brilliant run from the right and passed the ball to Katariya (4'), who tapped the ball into the goal (1-0).
India kept the pressure on by creating goal-scoring opportunities. Navneet made another good run in the 11th minute, but couldn't find the back of the net.
South Africa retaliated in the last few minutes of the first quarter and drew parity. Taryn Mallett sent a long ground pass and Tarryn Glasby (15') deflected the ball home (1-1).
There was no let-up in India's attack and they earned a penalty corner in the second minute of the second quarter. Deep Grace Ekka carried out the drag flick and Vandana (17') deflected the ball brilliantly into the goal to take a 2-1 lead.
The South Africans countered by making some incisive forays but could not beat the Indian defence.
India earned two penalty corners in the 6th minute of the second quarter, but failed to make use of them.
Three minutes later Neha made a fantastic run and took a shot, but the South African Goalkeeper carried out a brilliant save to deny India their opportunity.
India got close to the goal once again in the last few minutes of the first half, but they couldn't get past the South African goalkeeper.
South Africa earned a penalty corner in the final minute of the first half and captain Erin Hunter (30') didn't miss the opportunity to find the equalizer (2-2).
Neha made a solo run through the left flank in the opening minutes of the third quarter and got close to the goal, but the goalkeeper made a fine save.
The Indians earned a penalty corner and converted it into a goal. Rani passed the ball to Neha (32'), who deflected the ball into the goal (3-2).
In the 9th minute of the third quarter, South Africa got really close to the goal, but Savita made an excellent save . Moments later, they made another circle penetration. Marizen Marais (39') received the ball in the circle and found the back of the net to make it 3-3.
India had an open chance to score when Rani got close to the goal, but she failed to beat the goalkeeper.
South Africa earned two penalty corners early on in the fourth quarter, but the defenders cleared the ball away from the goal.
In the third minute of the last quarter, Sharmila drove the ball from the right but the forwards couldn't deflect the ball into the goal.
India earned a penalty corner in the next minute and Rani took the shot; however, it was brilliantly saved by the goalkeeper. Another penalty corner soon after; Gurjit Kaur carried out the drag-flick and Vandana (49') deflected the ball into the goal (4-3).
The Indians kept most of the ball possession in the final minutes of the match and ensured 3 points for themselves.
"I think we started the match very well, but we gave the South Africans too much space while defending. We were good in our offensive game, we created opportunities, we scored penalty corner goals so I am happy about that," said coach Sjoerd Marijne.
"The most important thing is that we won and we got the three points and now we have to wait and see what happens between Ireland and Great Britain. It's not easy to play in the current conditions, it's 35 degrees so I think that the girls made a good effort. Let's hope we make the quarter-finals," he added.