Tokyo: The Indian women’s hockey team made a historic entry into the quarterfinals, finishing fourth in Pool A after Ireland were beaten 2-0 by Great Britain in the final league match on Saturday.
India had defeated South Africa 4-3 in their last league match early in the day but their passage to the knockout stage depended on the result of the match between defending champions Great Britain and Ireland as the latter was placed fifth in the group and could finish fourth ahead of India.
For India to qualify, Great Britain had to beat Ireland and that’s what happened in a well-fought match on Saturday. A victory for Ireland would have taken them to six points, the same as India but the Irish would have qualified on better goal difference.
However, Ireland’s defeat meant India finished fourth in their pool behind Netherlands, Germany, and Great Britain.
India will meet former champions Australia in their quarterfinal match on Monday. It will be Netherlands v New Zealand; Spain v Great Britain and Germany v Argentina in the other quarterfinals.
This is a historic feat and a maiden entry in the quarterfinals for India, who are playing only their third Olympics after appearances in 1980, in which women’s hockey made its debut, and 2016 when the team finished last in their pool.
It is also an indication of the progress made by the women’s team in the last few years as they have made it to the top-10 a few years back.
Chief coach Sjoerd Marijne had set the team the target to reach the quarterfinals and they finally achieved it on Saturday. “Reaching the quarterfinals looks a realistic aim for this team,” Marijne had said before the team left for the Olympics and his girls achieved that target on Saturday.
6:00 am: Germany v Argentina
8:00 am: Australia v India
3:00 pm: Netherlands v New Zealand
5:30 pm: Spain v Great Britain