Women’s Hockey World Cup: India crash out after shootout defeat
India’s hopes of reaching their first final drew to an end after the 1-3 shootout defeat to Ireland in the quarterfinals of the women’s hockey World Cup in London on Thursday. The last-eight finish was nonetheless India’s best finish at the competition in the last 40 years.
It was just the third time India played a quarter-final at the World Cup. The fourth-place finish in the 1974 edition remains to date India’s best campaign at the tournament. They also played the quarters four years later in 1978 but lost to finish seventh.
The game, a feisty affair – with both sides failing to breach the defence of their opponent – remained goalless at the end of the fourth and final quarter and needed a penalty shootout to decide the winner. At that moment, when players of both the sides failed to find the net even in the dead ball situation, Ireland led by goalkeeper Ayeisha McFerran held their nerves to seal the victory and advance to their maiden semi-final appearance at the World Cup.
McFerran saved twice from the spot while Monika ran out of time to hand over a historic victory to the green shirts after Roisin Upton, Alison Meeke and Chloe Watkins had scored from the spot.
Indian goalie Savita too blocked one, but captain Rani Rampal, Navjot Kaur, and Monika missed to nullify the important save.
Ireland will next take on Spain in a semi-final battle of the underdogs on Saturday. While the Irish at number 16 are the second-lowest ranked team in the tournament, Spain is ranked 11 on the FIH rankings.
It was a tactical battle when the match began with both sides prioritising defence as the first option. Both Ireland and India have been a strong defensive unit throughout the competition and hence strikers of either side failed to find any openings to breach the backline. Chances were very few and far in between in the first quarter and neither team ended with a shot on target after the opening 15 minutes.
Ireland found an opening in the 23rd minute and nearly scored but a timely dive from goalkeeper Savita kept the ball from deflecting into the net.
A slight lapse in concentration once again presented Ireland with close chances to break the deadlock, while Udita missed an open opportunity to score when a square pass from Rani found her in a good position, but she stepped on the ball as a golden chance went begging.
Then in the final quarter with 10 minutes remaining on the clock, India earned the only penalty corner of the match. Skipper Rani stepped to take it but her shot was brilliantly saved by a diving Mcferran, who also kept the ball away from danger with a second attempt.
The game ended goalless in regulation time taking it to the shootout, where Ireland eventually won.