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Indian Women's Hockey Team's Paris 2024 Olympic Dreams Dashed in Tight Encounter Against Japan (PC: Hockey India)

Indian Women’s Hockey Team’s Paris 2024 Olympic Dreams Dashed in Tight Encounter Against Japan

Ranchi: The Indian women’s hockey team faced a heart-wrenching defeat against Japan, losing 0-1 in the FIH Hockey Olympic Qualifiers bronze medal match at the Marang Gomke Jaipal Singh Astroturf Hockey Stadium in Ranchi. With this loss, the Indian team’s hopes of securing a berth at the Paris 2024 Olympics came to an end.

In the intense battle, Kana Urata (6’) scored the decisive goal for Japan, securing victory and sealing the fate of the Indian women’s hockey team. The Paris 2024 Olympic qualifiers witnessed only the top three teams from the eight-nation tournament earning coveted spots for the upcoming Summer Games in France. USA and Germany had already secured their places by reaching the final.

Japan set the tone early in the match, posing challenging questions to the Indian defense. A crucial save by goalkeeper Savita Punia and a brave block by Salima Tete from Japan’s first penalty corner kept the score level. However, Japan’s persistence paid off when they won a second penalty corner in the fifth minute, with Kana Urata finding the net to give her team the lead.

Jolted by the early setback, India attempted to intensify their attacks in the first half but faced a disciplined Japanese defense. Despite creating two decent opportunities, neither Deepika nor Lalremsiami managed to convert. Japan also had chances to extend their lead, but Savita and the Indian defense made crucial blocks.

In the second quarter, India pressed harder, winning two penalty corners, but Japan’s defensive resilience led by Shihori Oikawa kept the hosts at bay, ending the first half with Japan in the lead.

The third quarter saw India coming close to equalizing from a penalty corner, but a brilliant save by Japan’s goalkeeper Eika Nakamura denied Deepika’s powerful strike. A subsequent clearance off the line by Ishika Chaudhary thwarted Japan’s attempt to score from another penalty corner.

With Paris 2024 Olympic qualification hanging in the balance, the Indian women’s hockey team launched relentless attacks in the final quarter. Despite their efforts, Japan defended resolutely, securing their slender lead and clinching the coveted Olympic berth.

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