London: Revenge will be on the minds of the Indian eves when they take on Ireland in the quarterfinals of the hockey World cup here, Thursday. The Women in Blue defeated Italy 3-0 in a late night match here Tuesday to seal their last eight spot. India had lost 0-1 to Ireland in their group stage encounter.
India discovered their scoring ways to finally end Italy’s World Cup adventure through a field strike from Lalremsiami (20th minute) and two penalty corner goals from Neha Goyal (45th) and Vandana Katariya (55th) to register the emphatic win.
The difference between world ranked 10th India and 17th ranked Italy was the first touch control and the ability to finish an attacking move successfully.
India won the first penalty corner of the game and although it was charged down by Ivanna Pessina, the subsequent ball in from India proved too clever for the Azzurri to deal with. Lalremsiami was on hand to lift the ball past Martina Chirico in the Italian goal after the ball was quickly switched across the circle by Vandana.
The second half saw Italy come out hard and play attacking hockey. Jasbeer Singh and Lara Oviedo were both instrumental in creating chances, although when they managed to get the ball to the high-playing Valentina Braconi, she was dealt with by the impressive Lilima Minz in the Indian defence.
India went 2-0 up when Neha hit the target off a goalmouth melee following a penalty corner. Then five minutes from the final hooter, Vandana put the issue beyond doubt.
India could have won by a bigger margin had it not been for the brilliance of Italian goalie Martina Chirico. She made at least five stellar saves and the ones against Monika and Deepika were really outstanding.
India are however, not under any pressure having to meet Ireland again. “We have gained confidence throughout this tournament,” stated skipper Rani Rampal. “Early in the tournament we didn’t do the one thing we needed to do – score goals. But we have found the net now and we can definitely push on with our journey. We do not see that journey ending tomorrow (Thursday),” she added.
If India do manage to beat Ireland and seal their semifinals berth it will be the first time in 44 years. The only time India had managed to enter the semifinals of the show-piece event was back in 1974 in Mandelieu, France where they eventually finished fourth.
But then it won’t be easy against the Irish who have won their last two encounters against the Indian eves. They have also been in very good form in the tournament having beaten higher-ranked sides like India and the USA.