Kakamigahara (Japan): The Indian women’s hockey team reached the final of the 2017 Asia Cup after defeating current champions and hosts Japan in a 4-2 thriller at the Kakamigahara Kawasaki Stadium on Friday.
A brace from Gurjit Kaur and two field goals from Navjot Kaur and Lalremsiami were enough as India emerged victorious to set up a date with two time champions China whom they had earlier beaten 4-1 in the group stage. The women in blue has been a fairly successful team in the tournament having won it once in 2004, while also coming runners-up in 1999 and 2009. They had lost to 3-5 to China in the 2009 edition finals and will aim to avenge that loss when they lock horns on Sunday.
Considering the form the blue tigresses have been of late, Gurjit Kaur gave them a fitting start scoring the opening goal in only the seventh minute of the match through a penalty corner. Indian doubled their lead two minutes later, when Navjot scored from a open play after a wonderful pass by forward Vandana Katariya. It had been just a few more seconds when India won another PC and Gurjit stood up once again to make in 3-0 in only the ninth minute of the match.
If the first quarter belonged to the Indians, the next was all about Japan as the two time champions came back strongly to reduce the defecit by two goals. Shiho Tsujii (17’) and Yui Ishibashi (28’) scored the two field goals raising hopes of a comeback as the match got more intensed.
But it was not to be, as Lalremsiami scored a sensational field goal to make it 4-2, eight minutes into the second half, to send Japan packing. It was also the youngstar’s first goal of the tournament. Although Japan won two penalty corners and created few good moves, Indian goalie Savita was well upto the task ensuring no more hiccups, as India booked their place in the finals for a fourth time in the competition.
Meanwhile, India ‘s opponent on Sunday, China have already won the tournament twice in 1989 and 2009 and will aim for a third when they take on India, a country they had defeated back in the 2009 finals. India meanwhile have been in a great form brushing opponents with ease and will aim for their second trophy, let along the 2009 final revenge. The winner of this competition will also earn an automatic quification for the 2018 World Cup in England.