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Women’s hockey: India lose to Japan in final

World No.14 Japan took the lead through Minami Shimizu in the 11th minute but world No.9 India pulled level through Neha Goyal in the 25th minute. Motomi Kawamura regained Japans lead in the 44th minute. India couldnt find their equaliser and had to settle for the silver medal.

It was Indias second silver medal in womens hockey in Asiad history. The last time they had finished second was in the 1998 edition. The only time they have won the title was in 1982 Games in New Delhi.

Coming into the final, India were the favourites having scored 38 goals during the group stage before securing a 1-0 win over China in the semi-finals. Also. going by recent results, India have had uccessful outings against the Japanese.

India started the first quarter well as they created a few opportunities which saw forwards Lalremsiami, Navneet Kaur and skipper Rani Rampal come close to scoring, but were denied by a rigid Japanese defence.

The Japanese got into the game and had their first real chance in the 8th minute as they forced Indian goalkeeper Savita to make a save off Aki Yamadas shot.

The 10th minute saw India win their first penalty corner. Japanese goalkeeper Megumi Kageyama kept away Gurjit Kaurs drag-flick on the left post.

After the turnover, Japan came hard at the Indians, earning a penalty corner. Shimizu deflected a penalty corner near the left post to give Japan a crucial 1-0 lead.

Japan looked comfortable on the ball towards the start of the second quarter and made several interceptions to deny India the opportunity to stitch passes together.

However, the Indian team was finally successful in finding an equaliser in the 25th minute as Navneet Kaur and Neha combined in a brilliant counter-attacking move to score Indias equaliser. Navneet struck a reverse shot across goal from inside the striking circle to find an unmarked Neha, who deflected the ball into the back of the net.

In the third quarter, India minimised unforced errors, building pressure on their opponents by keeping the ball better.

India had the first chance of the period in the 36th minute as Vandana Katariya and Navjot Kaur combined to attack on the counter, but the Japanese defence held firm to clear the ball away.

Vandana Katariya took another shot in the next minute but her strike was saved by Kageyama.

Japan, too, got their game going. With just over a minute remaining in the third quarter, Japan were awarded their second penalty corner which was well converted by Kawamura through a variation as they led 2-1.

It was desperate times for the Indian team as they tried to find a way past the Japanese defense. Whereas, Japan, on the other hand, tried to stay in front and manage the match well as they kept possession inside Indias half to utilise vital seconds.

The Indian team created an opportunity in the last minute when Rani and Vandana found themselves in possession inside Japans striking circle. But the latters shot went just wide of the goalpost as Indian hopes fizzled.

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