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Olympic Hopes Alive: India bounces back with a Win in Hockey.

Despite the setback against the USA, the Indian team showcased comprehensive hockey skills on Sunday, utilizing the entire field for their attacks through quick and precise passes.

India secured its first victory with a 3-1 win against New Zealand in the FIH Hockey Olympic Qualifiers, despite a heavily scored first quarter followed by three scoreless ones, which may not fully capture the on-field struggle. This crucial win kept the host team in the competition and contention for a spot in Paris on Sunday.

FIH Hockey Olympic Qualifiers match between India and New Zealand.
Deepika (55) of India attempts to score during the FIH Hockey Olympic Qualifiers against New Zealand.

On the opening day of the Olympic Qualifiers, Coach Janneke Schopman acknowledged that her team had an off day. The next day, a revitalized India, led by Salima Tete, seized control with a goal just 40 seconds into the match. Tete, aka Ferrari, swiftly used her speed to set up Jharkhandi Sangita Kumari for the lead before opponents.

India gave away two penalty corners, the second allowing New Zealand to level the score in the 7th minute. Yet, celebrating her birthday, Udita swiftly responded with a powerful strike during India’s fourth penalty corner. Two minutes later, Beauty Dung Dung capitalized on Jyoti’s excellent pass, extending the lead to 3-1.

FIH Hockey Olympic Qualifiers match between India and New Zealand.

The absence of further goals can be attributed largely to New Zealand’s desperate efforts to minimize the damage. Despite attempting counter-attacks to find goals, India’s defense remained steadfast. This team showed a noticeable transformation compared to the sluggish, unpredictable, and uncertain performance displayed against the USA.

The USA maintained an unbeaten streak, winning 2-0 against Italy despite missing penalty chances. In Pool A, Germany settled for a 1-1 draw against a resilient Japanese defense, wasting 14 penalty corners, marking the competition’s first tie. Chile dominated the Czech Republic in the other match with a 6-0 victory.

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