The Indian women’s hockey team started their campaign at FIH (Fédération Internationale de Hockey) Women’s Series with two impressive wins against Uruguay and Poland, defeating the former by 4-1 and the latter 5-0. India’s first match in the series was on Saturday, June 15th in Hiroshima. The Indian team Captain Rani opened the team’s account with their first goal in the 10th minute. Following that Gurjit Kaur scored a goal from a penalty corner in the 21st minute. Two more field goals were scored in the 40th and 56th minutes by players Jyoti and Lalremsiami. The Indian defense stayed impermeable and only conceded one goal from the Uruguayan side in the 51st minute by Viana Teresa.
In India’s second match of the series against Poland, the Indian team dominated the game securing a comfortable 5-0 win against Poland. Apart from the two goals by Gurjit Kaur, Vandana Katariya, Jyoti and Navneet Kaur’s goals helped India achieve their win.
Then on 18 June, the team outdid themselves scoring 11 goals and conceding nothing to the opposing side, Fiji. The match was phenomenal and a pleasure to watch. Gurjit Kaur scored net four goals in this match, Monika added two more and Rani, Vandana Katariya, Lalremsiami, Lilima Minz, and Navneet Kaur’s goals brought the Indian side’s tally to a sensational 11-0.
With this, the Indian side qualified for the semi-finals. The other semi-finalist is Russia from Pool B. India will be playing either Chile or Uruguay in the semis on the 22nd of June. The top teams of this series will qualify for the FIH Women’s Olympic Qualifiers. India’s road to Tokyo Olympics 2020 qualification matches though is a little tricky.
The Olympics hockey event does not have any quotas and all participating teams can only qualify through either FIH World rankings or through the new competition on the calendar known as the FIH Pro League. Since the women’s team is placed ninth currently in the FIH rankings, Hockey India officials decided it would be difficult for India to progress to qualification to Olympic Qualifiers through the Pro League. Added to that, the heartbreak at Asian Games where neither men nor women’s team succeeded in securing a gold, leaves only the FIH series as the Indian women’s team’s last resort to qualify for the Olympic Qualifiers. Even if the Indian side qualifies for the Olympic Qualifiers, the team must face off against the 14 teams competing for the 7 Olympic spots. India must be on their A game to make it to the Olympics.