Women’s Asian Cup: India defeat China, lifts trophy after 13 years

The Indian women's hockey team with the Women's Asian Cup title (Image credit-Twitter/Hockey India)

Kakamigahara (Japan): The Indian women’s hockey created history defeating China 5-4 in a  closely fought penalty shootout to lift the Asia Cup after a wait of 13 long years in Kakamigahara, Japan On Sunday. India had last won the tournament in 2004, before the heart-breaking Loss to China in the 2009 final.

The match had ended at 1-1 after regular time after Navjot Kaur had given India the lead, but Tiantian Luo equalised through a penalty corner. The following shootout also seemed to be going hand in hand, with both the teams tied at 4-4. But skipper Rani scored to make it 5 for India, while goalie Savita, who had been at her best throughout the match, saved the last kick to bring up the win. Rani scored twice while Monica, Lilima Minz and Navjot scored a goal each in the shootout.

However, it was China who started the match confidently, forcing India to concede a corner in just the second minute of the game. However, Savita was well upto the task to parry it away. India launched counter attacks a couple of times, but nothing frutiful materialised as the 2009 champions won another penalty corner, but Savita once again stood up to keep the scores nil at the end of first quarter.

India soon started piling the pressure on China in the second quarter making several runs into the opposition D. Navjot came agonizingly close to score the opening goal in the 17th minute, but her diving effort was blocked as Rani could make nothing of the deflection. However, India did take the lead in the 25th minute through Navjot, who played a quick one-two with Rani before firing a shot on goal to give her side the much needed lead.

The third quarter started in a similar way as India continued dominating the Ball possession with some fine passing. Neha Goyel and Lilima Minz showed some brilliant dribbling skills to beat the Chinese defenders but could not double the lead for India, as China continued defending deep. The blue tigresses even had a chance to score through a PC but failed to do so.

China soon won a penalty corner through a successful video referral two minutes into the final quarter. Tiantian Luo stepped up and kept her shot low at the right corner to score a sensational equaliser for the two time champions. The goal brought jittered Indian hopes but not the one to give up and considering the form they have been of late, the blue tigresses upped their ante, desperately trying to break the resolute Chinese defence. China meanwhile won their fourth PC of the match, with three minutes remaining on the clock. Having already scored once through a PC, Tiantian steeped up once again but her shot was brilliantly blocked by rusher Sunita Lakra as India launched their final attack in search of a second goal. However, the resulting shot was well out of target, taking the match into shootout.

India had last won the tournament in 2004 defeating Japan 1-0 in the finals at home. 13 years later India lifted the Asia Cup for a second time and aslo qualified for the 2018 World Cup in England. The men’s team had also won the Asia Cup this year, making a complete sweep for the country.

Savita for her excellent performance was adjudged the Goalkeeper of the Tournament.

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