Tokyo Olympics: Joyous weekend for Indian hockey fans as Men's and Women's teams keep medal hopes alive
A brief overview of the significance of a semifinal place for the Indian men's and women's teams in Tokyo 2020
While the Indian men's team were expected to qualify for the knock-outs, the women who had been drawn to play in what was virtually a group of death displayed a steely resolve to come back strongly after suffering three straight defeats.
🏑 The Indian Women's Hockey Team scripts history by making it to their first Olympics semifinals.— The Bridge (@the_bridge_in) August 2, 2021
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Sjoerd Marijne's team had a monumental task on their hands after being pooled alongside World Champions the Netherlands, defending champions Great Britain, World Cup silver medalists Ireland, Germany, and South Africa.
Bereft of match practice, but never short of grit, Rani and co. defied the odds to add yet another feather to their caps after having made it to the 2018 World Cup quarterfinal.
Rani Rampal's stunning goal against the Dutch set the tone for what was to come and despite losses against the Netherlands, Germany and Great Britain the girls shone in patches even as fortune failed to favour them at crucial moments.
The win against Ireland was no mean feat and the girls also exacted sweet revenge against the team that had ended that World Cup campaign in a cruel shootout three years ago.
Playing two vital back-to-games against Ireland and South Africa in the heat of Tokyo was never going to be easy, but the Indian Eves never took their feet off the pedal even for a moment in both matches.
The Indian's women's hockey team created history earlier today when they defeated Australia 1-0 to enter the semifinal of the ongoing 2020 Tokyo Olympics. The Rani Rampal led side which is ranked number 9 in the world knocked out the world number 2 and one of the biggest contenders for the gold in Tokyo, to make their way into the Olympic semifinal for the first time in history.
As far as the Indian men's team is concerned, a nation waits with bated breath to see if Manpreet and co. can do what their predecessors could not for the last 41 years.
Whether or not one of the youngest teams in the competition can withstand the pressure of a big semifinal remains to be seen, but the Indian strikers came into their own against Great Britain in the semifinals with Gurjant, Dilpreet and Hardik on the scoresheet.
Rupinder Pal Singh will be the first choice for India as far as the penalty corners go although Harmanpreet Singh and Varun Kumar have found the mark as well thus far in the competition.
In a contest where both sides are expected to tighten the defence considerably, PC goals will be vital and the ability to convert short corners under pressure will be tested to the core.
For now, it's a joyous weekend like never before in the history of Indian hockey as both the men's and women's teams have propelled their fans to dream on with a podium finish just a step away.