History beckons the Indian Women’s Hockey Team as they take on Ireland in the Quarter Final match of the Vitality Hockey Women’s World Cup London 2018 here at the Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre on Thursday.
The Indian Women’s Hockey Team last played in a Quarter Final encounter 40 years ago in the 1978 Madrid Women’s World Cup. The team’s Semi Final appearance in the inaugural edition of the World Cup in 1974 remains the best Indian performance in the history of the prestigious event. However, these stats would not play on the team’s mind when they take on the Irish on Thursday according to team Skipper Rani. “All I know is, we are not done yet. Our best hockey is yet to come,” she asserted adding that the only thing on their minds would be to avenge their narrow 0-1 loss in the Pool Stage to Ireland and book a place in the Semi Final against the winners of Spain Vs Germany Quarter Final match.
Rani said, “Though we lost against Ireland in the Pool Stage, we know we played really well that day but we did not put the ball in the goal. Now we have a golden opportunity to beat them in the Quarter Final.”
In the Crossover Match against Italy, it was Lalremsiami (9’), Neha Goyal (45’) and Vandana Katariya (55’) who scored in India’s significant win. It was a dominant overall performance that saw them make the next round and in the hindsight, Rani believes the team has improved match-by-match in this prestigious tournament where they have drawn 1-1 to World No.2 England, lost 0-1 to Ireland, drew 1-1 with USA in the Pool Stage followed by a triumphant 3-0 score-line against the Italians. “Against Italy, we wanted to ensure we score in the first two quarters and put pressure on them. In the previous three matches in the Pool Stage, we were doing everything except scoring. But on Tuesday, we ticked that box right and we have realised that it all boils down to the self-belief we have,” stated the 23-year-old striker.
Beating Ireland, who are high on confidence after 3-1 win against USA and India 1-0 to top Pool B and earn a direct qualification for the Quarter Final, would be a tough task especially if the Irish can pull off a good start to put pressure on India’s structure.
Rani though was categorical in her stance that this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for her team to create history. “For us, it is a once-in-a-lifetime moment to be playing the Quarter Final of the biggest event in hockey. We will do everything we can to win this match and make the Semi Final and the team believes we stand a realistic chance,” asserted an optimistic Rani.
The Indian Women’s Hockey team will play Ireland in their Quarter-Final match on Thursday, 2nd August 2018 at 22.30hrs IST.