Hockey WC: Indian eves to face Ireland in quarters

London: The Indian women’s hockey team will take on Ireland in the quarter-final match of the ongoing World Cup here on Thursday, with the former’s sight set on avenging the group stage loss they suffered on July 26.

India last played in a quarter-final encounter 40 years ago in the 1978 Madrid Women’s World Cup. The semi-final appearance in the inaugural edition of the World Cup in 1974 remains India’s best 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 side on Thursday according to team captain 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 to Ireland in the Pool Stage and book a place in the semi-final against the winners of the other quarter-final clash between Spain and Germany.

“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,” she added.

Earlier, in the crossover match against Italy, it was Lalremsiami (9′), Neha Goyal (45′) and Vandana Katariya (55′) who scored in India’s crucial win.

It was a dominant overall performance that saw them make the next round and in the hindsight, Rani believes the team have improved match-by-match in this prestigious tournament where they drew 1-1 to World No.2 England, lost 0-1 to Ireland, drew 1-1 with the USA 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 topping Pool B with a 3-1 win against USA and a 1-0 win over India, would be a tough task especially if they start well and put pressure on India’s structure.

Rani, although, was categorical in her stance as she said 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 Rani. (ANI)