Harpal Singh Bedi
New Delhi: Navneet Kaur led the charge as India overpowered formidable Japan 3-1, to finish 9th in the Women’s World Cup at Estadi Olímpic de Terrassa, Spain on Wednesday.
Navneet scored a brace (30th,45th) while Deep Grace Ekka (38′) was the other scorer for the winners. For Japan, Yu Asai (20′) scored the sole goal in the match.
The win is impressive as it has come against Japan who hold triple Gold in Asia ( Being winners of Asian Games, Asia Cup, Asian Champions Trophy)
Putting behind the disappointment of not qualifying for the knock out stage, Indians pumped out all their pent up frustrations on Japan outplaying them in every department of the game.
India opend the match on a aggressive note as Neha created an early opening inside the circle for Navneet Kaur .A few minutes later Gurjit Kaur tried to give India the lead from a Penalty Corner. But Japan’s Moeka Tsubouchi defended well to clear away the ball.
The best chance for the India came when Navneet r broke through the rival defence and penetrated inside the circle. But Japan averted the danger and the first quarter ended with both teams at 0-0.
India began second quarter on a fast pace and a threatening move forced Japan’s Shihori Oikawa to save the ball from the edge of the goalpost. A shot on target from Vandana Katariya a couple of minutes later tested goalkeeper Eika Nakamura.
However against the run of play, a Penalty Corner in the 20th minute led to Yu Asai opening the scoring for Japan.
Navneet Kaur equalised the score with a stunning late goal and the two teams went to halftime at 1-1.
The second half started with both teams keeping the ball in the midfield and trying to maintain possession. A Penalty Corner attempt from Gurjit went wide off the target.
Few minutes later, Deep Grace Ekka converted from another Penalty Corner, hitting the ball towards the bottom right corner to give India a 2-1 lead.
Japan conceded once again in the final seconds of the quarter as Navneet Kaur scored her second goal of the match, to make it 3-1 for India.
Japan started searching for goals to get back into the contest straight away in the final quarter. But India maintained a strict defence line to prevent any danger. Lalremsiami opened up a dangerous move from the right flanks to put the opposition on the backfoot again.
In the final few minutes of the match, India maintained possession deep inside Japan’s half, while the opposition struggled to get on to the ball.