Out of the ten top teams in the world only six have managed to qualify for the quarterfinal stage of the World Cup. The traditional powerhouses of world hockey, the Netherlands, England, Argentina, Australia, and Germany have made it through to the last eight.
The Spanish have made it too and rank-outsiders Ireland astounded the world by being the first to qualify.
Joining the elite group as the only Asian challenger is India and irrespective of what happens next, it is indeed a proud moment for the Golden Girls and millions of their fans at home and abroad. The Indians have been fearless in their approach as they took on the might of the Olympic champions in front of a packed stadium, the majority of whom comprised English fans.
England just about managed to cancel India's one-goal lead and come away with a point. The Indians held the USA to a one-all draw as well and disposed of the Italians with ease winning by a 3-0 margin,
The only blemish for the Golden Girls was their failure to beat Ireland and that one loss assumes great significance as it is the Irish who stand between India and a place in the semifinal. Graham Shaw's side stunned the Americans in their opener and went on to prove that the win was no flash in the pan.
The Indians were taken aback as the Irish took the lead via an innovative PC routine and in spite of over two dozen circle penetrations and over a dozen shots on goal were unable to find the back of the net even once.
Goalkeeper Ayeisha McFerran denied the Indian strikers with her athletic saves and the Indians slumped to a defeat just as they had done a year back against the Irish at the HWL in Johannesburg.
Indian coach Sjoerd Marijne will need to put his thinking cap on before the big match tomorrow and use every ounce of his knowledge and expertise if the Indians are to progress to a historic semifinal.
After the loss to Ireland, the Indians seemed to have regained their rhythm in the latter half of the match against the USA. Lalremsiami and Vandana were brilliant against the Italians although the Indian eves did mess up quite a few golden chances at the goalmouth.
Ireland has had a longer rest than the Indians and the Golden Girls will have to focus on recovery today. Both teams will be under pressure but given the expectations at home, the Indians will perhaps need to contend with a lion's share of the same.
An absorbing contest is on the cards and the stakes could not have been higher.
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Event: Women's Hockey World Cup 2018
Venue: London, The United Kingdom
Date: 2nd August, 2018
Time: 10:30 pm Indian Standard Time (IST)
Telecast: Star Sports 2, Star Sports HD2
Live Streaming: Hotstar
Live Updates: SportskeedaPublished 01 Aug 2018, 22:27 IST