“Be angry, be frustrated, you have every right but move on and settle down before crucial bronze medal match,” was chief coach Janneke Schopman’s mantra after Indian women’s hockey team lost in a controversial shoot-out against Australia in the Commonwealth Games semi-final. And her words of wisdom seemed to have worked like magic as a wounded India beat New Zealand 2-1 in the shoot-out after 1-1 in regulation time to clinch a CWG medal — a bronze — after a hiatus of 16 years. The Indians were undone by a horrendous stopwatch faux pas by technical officials in the shoot-out against Australia, which they eventually lost 0-3 following a 1-1 stalemate after 60 minutes.
“We gave it all against Australia but it wasn’t great how the shoot-out started. But it is what it is and we have to accept that and take it our stride,” an elated Schopman said.
“After yesterday’s game, we had a team meeting and I told the girls ‘Be angry, be frustrated, take all your anger out…but tomorrow is a new game and we need to settle down. We have to move forward. We knew we can give fight to any team and the girls showed great resilience.” A timekeeping faux pas by a technical official in the shootout robbed India’s opportunity against Australia on Saturday. Rosie Malone fluffed Australia’s first attempt in the penalty shoot-out as India skipper Savita pulled off an excellent block.
But Malone got a second chance after the officials’ timekeeping error and this time the striker scored to change the momentum of the game.
“It’s not the umpire’s fault, they were really apologetic. I request the FIH to not just look at the rules because there is so much human than rules,” Schopman said.
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“There is no point registering a complaint. Have we been robbed? May be but there is no point…” The Dutch coach said he always believed in the ability of her players, despite having an ordinary World Cup that preceded the CWG.
“I knew we can play hockey and we have showed that. There is so much talent in India, they have great hands so why they shouldn’t have more balls than the opponent. “The World Cup taught us valuable lessons but the belief was always there. It takes time but we know we can compete with anyone,” Schopman said.
Having endured some tough times after taking over the reigns of the team, Schopman finally tasted success and understandably she was emotional.
“I am still emotional. For me its been tough couple of weeks. In World Cup many or our matches were tight, 50-50. So I just wanted the girls to win and get a medal which they deserve.” India captain Savita, who turned out to be the star in the win over New Zealand with her spectacular show in the shoot-out, credited Schopman.
“As a captain and a senior player, I would give all credit for the medal goes to our coach Janneke. She motivated us and told us not to give up till the last minute,” she said.
On returning to the Games Village, the Indian women got a rousing welcome from the men’s side with Manpreet Singh and his teammates lining up on two sides to applaud their female counterparts.
“It was special for us. It was a surprise. We didn’t know they were waiting for us to welcome us. Now we want a gold from them,” Savita said.
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