The India women’s hockey team would look to put the horrendous ‘clock’ controversy behind its back while eyeing a podium finish when it takes on New Zealand in the bronze medal match in the Commonwealth Games on Sunday. A timekeeping faux pas by a technical official during the penalty shootout robbed India’s opportunity as Australia beat the Savita Punia-led side 3-0 from one-one-situation. Both the teams were locked 1-1 at the end of regulation time.
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.
Going into Sunday’s crucial game, mental adjustment will be key for the Indians as they aim a bronze, a year after losing to Great Britain 3-4 to finish a historic fourth at the Tokyo Olympics.
“Whatever happened yesterday was unfortunate and shocking but we have to come back again. This is another opportunity for us to get a CWG medal,” vice-captain Deep Grace Ekka told PTI.
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Vandana Katariya scored a peach of a goal on Saturday to help India bounce back and level 1-1 against the mighty Australians to take the match into 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 make a strong comeback. We have time in our hands. It’s a do-or-die for us and we will give our best,” said India captain Savita. Savita was at her best, especially at the closing stages of the match denying Australia from a flurry of penalty corners.
The key for the Indian attack would once again be their star forward Vandana.
Chief coach Janneke Schopman had her hopes high on the duo of Savita and Vandana as the Dutch double Olympic medallist insisted on playing a team game.
“Savi is a very good goalkeeper. Today, she showed that she has the capability of stopping balls that can be certain goals. I know she can do it. I know our team has a lot of confidence in her as well. I must say that the defenders also played a very good game. We defended very well as a team.
“Van (Vandana’s nickname) is very often the end station. In this case, Sushila had a good slapshot and Van was just in the right spot. We have been working hard on this,” she said.
“It can be Van or it can 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 goals, she will,” the 45-year-old expert tactician added.
Winners of the Manchester 2002 edition, Indian women won a CWG medal last was back in 2014, a silver before finishing fourth in Gold Coast.
India were at their wasteful best in their last meeting against New Zealand at the World Cup in July this year to lose 3-4.
Australia will play hosts England in the final on Sunday.
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