Harpal Singh Bedi
New Delhi: Fancied India huffed and puffed before overpowering lowly Ghana 5-0 in their opening match of the Women’s hockey competition at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham on Friday 29 July 2022.
Gurjit Kaur (3′, 39′) scored a brace in the match while Neha (28′), Sangita Kumari (36′), and Salima Tete (56′) also scored a goal each in the Pool A contest to help their team pick up the all-important win.
It was expected to be an easy picking for the Indians but the African girls made their favourite rivals to toil hard for this victory.
The Africans were simply not overawed by the reputations of their opponents and put up a spirited fight and gave the Indians run for their money.
India started aggressively with Jyoti creating an early chance from the right flanks, passing the ball to Navneet Kaur inside the circle. Navneet’s shot on target was saved by Ghana goalkeeper Boye Abigail.
However, a minute later India surged ahead’ as Gurjit Kaur scored from the first Penalty Corner of the match (1-)0)
India continued to maintain possession, keeping the pressure on Ghana defence as the first quarter came to a close.
The girls in blue continued to make circle penetrations in the early minutes of the second quarter.
Sharmila Devi and Sonika pressed deeper from the right flanks but Ghana defence was quick to avert the danger. Savita brought off a fine save when she cleared Ghana’s Elizabeth Opoku a shot on target.
Minutes later, Savita also saved a Penalty Corner as India maintained their lead. Neha extended the lead to 2-0 just at the stroke of halftime with a brilliant move from the left flanks.
India earned an early Penalty Corner in the second half but Adizatu Sulemana made a sensational save and she started a quick counter-attack. But Savita stood tall and strong on the other end and cleared away the danger.
A move created by Monika and Lalremsiami from the left flanks allowed Sangita Kumari to hit the ball into the nets and India extended their lead to 3-0. Minutes later, Gurjit Kaur converted from a penalty stroke to make it 4-0.
India kept hold of the possession in the final quarter, ensuring to keep the ball away from Ghana players.
With only a few minutes left in the game, Ghana showcased urgency as they tried to get a goal back in the contest. Monika continued to threaten Ghana’s defence in the final quarter, creating Penalty Corner opportunities for her team.
Ghana kept India at bay until Neha created an opportunity in the final few minutes, finding Salima Tete inside the circle. Salima sent the ball home to wrap up the match 5-0.