Women’s Hockey World Cup: India eye history against Ireland
The Indian women’s hockey team will aim for their first semi-final appearance in 44 years when they take on Ireland in the quarter-final of the Hockey World Cup at the Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis centre in London on Thursday.
India registered their first win of the tournament beating Italy 3-0 in the play-off on Tuesday after two draws and a defeat in the group stages. But a victory against Ireland – who had earlier beaten the Ladies in Blue – will ensure them a semi-final berth for only the second time in the history of the competition.
The semi-final appearance in the inaugural edition of the World Cup in 1974 remains to date India’s best performance in the prestigious tournament. In the last edition at Rosario, Argentina, India finished a disappointing eight, but all of that will wash away if India manages to beat World No. 16 Ireland in the quarters.
“All I know is, we are not done yet. Our best hockey is yet to come,” said skipper Rani Rampal adding that the only thing in their minds at the moment is to avenge the defeat to the same team in the pool sage.
“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,” asserted Rani.
It will however not be easy against the same team that has defeated them twice in as many meetings. Ireland topped Pool B ahead of the higher ranked USA and India, defeating both before losing to England in the final pool stage match. It could however not stop them from claiming their maiden World Cup quarter-final berth.
India on the other had to come through the long road after failing to win a single match in the pool stage. The 3-0 thrashing of the lower-ranked Italy will, however, boost their confidence after finding it hard to find the net in the previous matches.
“Early in the tournament, we didn’t do the one thing we needed to do – score goals. But we have found the net now and we can definitely push on with our journey. We do not see that journey ending tomorrow,” said the captain.
But it won’t be easy against the same opponents that humbled them twice – first at the Hockey World League semi-finals in Johannesburg, where India lost 1-2 and then in the pool stages of this competition.
The Irish will certainly be upbeat but Indian skipper Rani sees this as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for her team to script 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 believe we stand a realistic chance,” she said.