The Indian women’s hockey team pulled-off a major upset at the Olympics 2021 when they beat World No. 2 Australia 1-0 in the quarterfinals and booked a place among the last four teams in the tournament.
Going into the match, the Indians were far from favorites against a team that had finished the Pool stages scoring 13 goals, conceding just one and not losing a single match.
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However, the Indian Eves were ready for the challenge. They scored an early goal to take the lead and followed it up with some brilliant defense and composure to keep the ball out of their net until the end.
Marijne’s magic for the Indian women’s hockey team
The team for this year’s Olympics has been put together by the Dutchman Sjoerd Marijne after a lot of work over the past four years. He took on the role after India ended their first ever Olympic campaign in 36 years. He set out his goals and worked on building a strong roster for the Tokyo Olympics.
Marijne promised that India will pull off a surprise performance at the Summer Games and he has delivered on it. Speaking to the press after India’s historic performance, Marijne said:
“They [Australia] are a good team. They had a lot of penalty corners. They changed their strategy and we had to adjust. It is all about the mindset. I told them that we have nothing to lose, so play freely and the girls did just that. The way the defense played today, combined with Savita [our goalkeeper] was impressive. This is like a dream come true. I think this is the true Chak de India!”
On how they have been gearing up for the big challenges at the Olympics, Marijne said:
“We planned to work on it match by match. How we can improve in the next match. Today we had a lot of penalty corners and had to defend in the circle. So we focused on those small aspects. That helps in keeping the mind away from thinking about the semifinal and winning and losing.”
The Dutchman believes the win over Australia is a moment to cherish for the entire team. He said:
“Enjoy the moment. Don’t look ahead all the time. Enjoy the journey and realize what you have just done.”
However, the experienced Dutchman knows that the job is not over yet. Speaking about the goals and preparations for the next match, he said:
“For the next match, we need to improve on a few areas – We gave away the ball too many times and the distance between our players was way too much.”
The Indian team will now face Argentina in the semi-finals of the tournament. The higher-ranked team from South America beat them 5-0 at the 2016 Rio Olympics. Today’s win will, however, help them believe that they are capable of going all the way.