Indian women go down to Japan in hockey, clinch silver

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Silver medal winning Indian women’s hockey team celebrates during the medal ceremony at the 18th Asian Games 2018, in Jakarta, Indonesia on Friday, Aug 31, 2018. | Photo Credit: PTI

JAKARTA, August 31: The Indian women’s hockey team failed to break its 36-year-old gold jinx after losing to Japan 1-2 in a keenly contested summit clash to settle for the silver medal at the 18th Asian Games here on Friday.
The loss will hurt the Indians badly as a gold here would have guaranteed a direct qualification in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
Minami Shimizu and Motomori Kawamura scored for Japan through penalty corners in the 11th and 44th minute while Neha Goyal’s field goal in the 25th minute was the lone strike for India, who were aiming to win their first Asiad gold since 1982.
The Indians had qualified for the final of the Asian Games after a gap of 20 years, having beaten China in the semi-finals.
Ahead of the Olympics, Japanese hockey is on the right track with the women winning their maiden Asian Games title after finishing runners-up thrice.
For Indian hockey, there was more disappointment after the fancied men’s team failed to defend its gold following their loss to Malaysia in the semi-finals on Thursday.
Coming into the match, the Indians were favourites to win the title as they are ranked five places above Japan at ninth in the world rankings.
In the first quarter, India made more forays into the opposition circle but lacked the finishing touch. Their first big opportunity came in fourth minute when Navneet Kaur could not do much with captain Rani Rampal’s pass into the striking zone.
Japan had their opportunity too in the eighth minute but Indian goalkeeper Savita made a good save.
Navneet then helped India get their first penalty corner in the 10th minute but dragflicker Gurjit Kaur could not get it past the Japanese goalkeeper.
Another Japanese counter attack followed which resulted in their first penalty corner, which was clinically converted by Shimizu in the 11th minute. Down by a goal, India kept attacking but with little precision. (PTI)