Fighting India women lose 1-2 to Argentina in hockey semifinal; to fight for bronze now

TOKYO: A brave Indian women’s hockey team put up a gritty performance but it was not enough to secure a maiden Olympic final berth as it lost 1-2 to world no.2 Argentina in a hard-fought semifinal of the ongoing Games on Wednesday.
India still have a chance to win the bronze medal as they will take on Great Britain in the third-fourth place play-off match on Friday.
The Indians fought valiantly and gave Argentina a run for their money by taking the lead in the second minute through a penalty corner conversion by Gurjit Kaur.
But the Las Leonas bounced back strongly with skipper Maria Barrionuevo’s (18th, 36th minutes) twin strikes from penalty corners to secure the hard-fought win.
The bunch of 18 fearless and determined Indian women had already done the unthinkable when they stunned three-time champions Australia 1-0 on Monday to enter the Olympic semifinals for the first time.
Coming into the match, the odds were totally against India but the side led by talismanic Rani Rampal and coached by master tactician Sjoerd Marijne exceeded expectations.
India’s best performance in the Olympics came way back in the 1980 Moscow Games where they finished fourth out of six teams.
In that edition of the Games, women’s hockey made its debut in the Olympics and the sport was played in a round-robin format with top two teams qualifying for the final.
The Netherlands will play Argentina in the final on Friday.
Even though Argentina dominated in terms of possession, it was India who got the all-important lead.
Despite penetrating their opponent’s circle on numerous occasions, Argentina failed to create a clear cut chance in the first quarter as the Indians defended stoutly.
It was India who grabbed with both hands, the first opportunity that came their way.
India secured a penalty corner with their first circle penetration and it was perfectly converted by Gurjit with a powerful dragflick to hand her side an unexpected lead.
Thereafter it was all Argentina, which exerted tremendous pressure on the Indian defence with relentless attacks but somehow India managed to keep the ball away from the net.
Most of Argentina’s attacks came from the left flank and they kept up the pressure on the Indian defence in the second quarter.

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