Olympic Hockey Qualifier: Indian men, women thrash Russia, USA to book 2020 Tokyo tickets
Bhubaneswar | Jagran Sports Desk: In a proud moment for India, both the men and women’s hockey team qualified for the 2020 Tokyo Olmpics on Saturday.
The Indian men’s hockey team thrashed Russia 7-1 in the second-leg to seal 2020 Tokyo Olympics berth in Bhubaneswar. They booked their Tokyo tickets after the women defeated USA 6-5 on aggregate to qualify for the sporting extravaganza.
The Indian men, ranked fifth in the world, had earlier defeated world number 22 Russia 4-2 in the first-leg on Friday.
On Saturday, Akashdeep Singh (23rd, 29th minutes) and Rupinder Pal Singh (48th, 59th) scored a brace each, while Lalit Upadhyay (17th), Nilkanta Sharma (47th) and Amit Rohidas (60th) scored for the hosts after Russia took an early lead in the opening minute through Alexey Sobolevskiy.
The Indians made a sedate start but upped their ante and took the lead in the 23rd minute when Akashdeep scored following a penalty corner. There was no stopping India after that as they kept up the pressure on the Russian defence and mounted quite a few attacks.
India went into the halfway break with a comfortable 7-3 lead over Russia on aggregate, courtesy three strikes in the second quarter. There was no stopping the Indians after the initial hiccup as they added four more goals in the final quarter to add to Russia's agony.
The women’s team meanwhile, pipped the USA 6-5 on aggregate despite losing 1-4 in the second leg of the FIH Qualifier in Bhubaneswar to qualify for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
The USA gave India a tough challenge and raced to 4-0 lead at the halfway mark. However, Rani pulled one back to maintain the slender lead till final hooter. With this, Indian women have now qualified for back-to-back Olympics having sealed it in Rio de Janeiro after a gap of 36 years. The women's team first participated in the Quadrennial extavaganza in 1980 where the men's team last won their gold medal.
The Americans came out with positive intent and made a lively start to the contest as they earned two penalty corners minutes into the match but failed to execute the chances on both occasions. The Indians on the other hand found it difficult to counter USA’s attacks from the onset.
But Indian Skipper Rani Rampal, in the 48 th minute of the game, took an inspirational strike from a loose ball to reduce the margin and hand India the vital lead.
With this both the Indian men and women teams have sealed their place for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
(With PTI inputs)
Posted By: Aalok Sensharma