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The Tribune: Golden chance gone (9/1/2018)
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The Tribune: Golden chance gone

Vinayak Padmadeo

No gold in hockey as Asia No. 1 women lose to Japan in final; direct berth to Tokyo missed

The Indian women’s team will have to wait another four years for a shot at the Asian Games gold — they were beaten 2-1 by Japan in this edition’s final. At the end when the hooter went, the Japanese team circled around its coaching staff and, beginning with chief coach Anthony James Farry, tossed all staff members up in the air to celebrate their maiden Asiad gold. The Indians were shocked, on their haunches, looking at each other, trying to hold back tears after missing a golden chance to earn a direct qualification for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

The Indian women’s team has won only one Asiad gold, way back in 1982, and this Rani Rampal-led side was dreaming of ending the long wait. But profligacy in front of the opposition goal cost India dear tonight.

The Japanese team had two penalty corner opportunities and converted both. The Indians, playing their first Asiad final in 20 years, created a solitary penalty corner chance, but Gurjit Kaur failed to convert it. India also missed a host of chances in front of the goal, including in the dying moments of the match when Vandana Kataria failed to connect with the ball when she had the goalkeeper at her mercy.

Though India were better and had more circle penetrations, it was Japan who took the lead from a penalty corner, through a fine deflection by Minami Shimizu. India were guilty of frequently giving away possession to the Japanese, who were content on hitting on the counter. But a fluid counterattack from the forwards got India back into the game when Navneet Kaur’s reverse hit was deflected in by Neha Goyal to make it 1-1. But India tailed off in the third quarter while Japan went ahead with another well taken penalty corner, Motomi Kawamura shocking goalkeeper Savita with a reverse hit.

Chances missed

“We shouldn’t have missed those chances,” Rani said. “There was no pressure as we knew we were much better than the Japanese team and they were committing errors, but we didn’t convert our chances and Japan took both the PC chances.”

India coach Sjoerd Marijne said: “At the end it was a fair result but I think we created enough chances but not enough PCs.”

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