Before coming for the Asia Cup in Japan, India had a huge task at hand. They needed to win the tournament to qualify for next year’s World Cup. But, after their win against Singapore in the opening game of the tournament, India qualified for the World Cup, thanks to South Africa. They beat Ghana in the final of African Cup and the spot was awarded to India as South Africa had already qualified for it. Even after qualification, India captain Rani Rampal has said that they wanted to qualify on merit and winning the Asia Cup proves that.
“We are all extremely happy that we won the Asia Cup and have earned the qualification for next year’s World Cup on merit. We had a lot of young players in the team who showed great spirit in playing on such a big platform. The team gave a good fight to China and China too played equally well today and the match went into penalty shootout. It was high level competition and we did not drop our level at any point in the game. Savita made a brilliant save in sudden death and I am happy I could convert that goal in sudden death. The win was a result of a lot of hard work through this entire year and also the efforts of our coaching staff,” Rani said.
India defeated China in the final of Asia Cup in shootouts. After the match ended 1-1 after regulation time, India beat China 5-4 in the penalty shootouts to win their second Asia Cup title. Rani said that they want to continue this confidence into the Commonwealth Games and Asian Games next year.
“We would like to especially thank Hockey India and SAI (Sports Authority of India) for their continued support and ensuring we get the best facilities. This motivates us to do better and better. Hopefully we will carry this confidence and motivation into the Commonwealth Games and Asian Games next year,” she said.
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Looking back at the last one year of the women team’s performance, Rani said that they transformed their game after the World League Semi-finals and worked on different aspects of the game.
“We were not happy with our performance in Johannesburg at the World League Semi Final and right then the team had decided that we need to start winning in order to gain that confidence to perform well in top tournaments. We worked a lot on creating PCs and Gurjit worked hard on converting PCs during our camps. We were also well-prepared for a shootout situation as we were anticipating the knockouts to end in shootout. All the preparation helped us today,” she said.