Women's Hockey World Cup: Navneet shines as India beats Japan

The Indian women’s hockey team defeated Japan 3-1 on Wednesday to finish a dismal eighth in the FIH World Cup, thanks to two goals from Navneet Kaur. In the classification game, Navneet (30th, 45th minutes) scored two field goals, while Deep Grace Ekka (38th) scored one from a set piece. Yu Asai’s goal for Japan in the 20th minute was the only one scored.

In the first five minutes of the first quarter, the game was competitive, but neither side managed to score. Soon after, India had an excellent opportunity to take the lead, but Japan goalkeeper Eika Nakamura stopped Vandana Katariya’s close-range shot. For the remainder of the first quarter, both sides made a valiant effort, but to no effect.

India got off to a strong start in the second quarter and had a few opportunities in the first two minutes, but the Savita-led team could not score. Yu Asai’s penalty corner conversion in the 20th minute gave Japan the advantage.

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India quickly received their first penalty corner but squandered the chance. With constant assaults in the waning seconds of the second quarter, they upped their level of play, but Japan resolutely resisted.

India pulled even when Navneet scored off a field attempt just before halftime. Following the change of ends, India got a fast start and won their sixth penalty corner of the game. However, as was the case throughout the tournament, India squandered the opportunity.

However, the Japanese defenders were up to the challenge as Lalremsiami threatened from the left wing.

Eight minutes into the second half, India earned another penalty corner, and this time Ekka converted to give her team the lead.

The Japanese goalie Nakamura thwarted assault after an attack by the Indians on the Japanese net, including one instance when Vandana got perilously near. After the change of ends, the action was mainly encircled by the Japanese half as India constantly attacked in large numbers.

In the third quarter, India came within one goal of gaining a two-goal lead, but Sharmila Devi’s goal was disallowed because the ball struck her body.

India controlled the third quarter as they drastically improved their performance to worry the Japanese defense, which led to Navneet’s second goal at the conclusion.

The fourth and final quarter saw more of the same from India, with Vandana being denied again by the Japanese goaltender.

Japan made a valiant effort in the last minutes but could not get past the staunch Indian defense.