The Indian women’s team captain Ritu Rani helped the team end the Hockey World League (HWL) semis, being held in Antwerp, Belgium, on a successful note. The Indian women’s team finished 5th with a narrow win over Japan in the play-off.
The striker was in a celebratory mood as now, the Indian women’s team have a very good chance of finally qualifying for the Summer Olympics after a very long wait of 36 years.
She was pleased with the kind of homecoming they got at the Delhi International Airport. Many fans waited in the early hours of Monday morning for welcoming the team with garlands and bands.
“None of the team members was even born then (1980), so you can imagine the celebrations after the game on Saturday. We have almost completed the dream. It was good to see so many fans at the airport in Delhi waiting to welcome us with band and garlands so early on Monday morning,” DNA India reported her as saying.
“We didn’t want to return home on the back of a defeat”
The striker was pleased to see the comeback the team made after the 0-7 thrashing they took from the Dutch team. She insisted that it is not easy to win the next two games after such a negative result.
She added in an interview from her home in Haryana, “It is one thing to lose and another thing to be handed a seven-goal drubbing. Despite the defeat, we still had a match left to play and all that we had to do was win.”
The 23-year-old halfback insisted that every player in the team knew in their hearts that this was their last chance to qualify for the Olympics and with the victory they would virtually qualify for the summer Olympics.
DNA India quoted her, “It was a do-or-die game for us. Our goal was 60 minutes away. Some of the players knew that this could be their last chance. Sometimes, this is all the motivation one needs. We didn't want to return home on the back of a defeat.”
The Indian captain made her debut at a tender age of 14 at 2006 Asian Games and has represented her nation 213 times in which she has found the net on 16 occasions. The fate of Mathias Ahrens’ team will be clear by October end when all the continental championships will be concluded.