2019 Women's FIH Olympic Qualifiers, India vs USA 2nd leg: Preview, prediction, telecast, date, start time and where to watch online
A maiden international appearance at the massive Kalinga Stadium can be unnerving for the best in the business. That, added to the fact that the Indian girls have not played at home for well over two years may well have been responsible for the initial jitters that seemed to afflict the hosts especially in the vicinity of their own goal in the first leg of their Olympic qualifiers against USA.
Alyssa Parker and Kathleen Sharkey both came close to scoring, but fortune favoured Rani Rampal and co. on home turf until Vandana Katariya earned a PC - and Gurjit Kaur, who had failed to beat the USA defence, finally struck one home before half-time which opened the floodgates post the long break.
The vigour and intensity that Sjoerd Marijne's chargers displayed in the second half was admirable as they overcame the early jitters to pulverize the USA into submission. As a result of the 5-1 win, the hosts can afford to play to a plan today while the opposition will have no choice but to chase the game with an all-or-nothing approach.
It will be interesting to see whether the Indians launch an early offensive barrage to score a flurry of early goals and play the USA out of the match or adopt a more cautious approach depending on what effect the heat and humidity of a six o'clock start can have.
Youngsters like Salima Tete and Sharmila came to the fore in yesterday's clash displaying a level of pace, skill, and intent that would please Marijne in no small measure. Rani continued to inspire as she always does and picked up the Player of the Match Award - but the seasoned skipper is aware, no doubt, that the job is only half done.
The Golden Girls are on the verge of history like they were at the Asian Games and the World Cup - but this time around they cannot afford to fall at the decisive hurdle, especially after all the hard work has been done.
It will be a memorable birthday gift for Scientific Advisor Wayne Lombard who has been instrumental in the rapid rise of a team that is one step away from what will undoubtedly be a truly memorable moment in Indian hockey history.
Here is how you can catch all the action:
Event: Olympic Qualifiers, 2019
Venue: Bhubaneswar, India
Date: 2 November 2019
Time: 6:00 PM Indian Standard Time (IST)
Telecast: Star Sports 1, Star Sports 1 HD
Live Streaming: Hotstar
Live Updates: Sportskeeda
Controlled aggression – Sjoerd Marijne's preferred style – has been the mantra for the girls of late. With India in the driver's seat, the hosts will look to unsettle the USA defence early on in an attempt to add to the tally and resort to crisp possession play which they excel in once the mission has been achieved.