For the first time ever, Indian girls have entered the semifinals of the junior women's World Cup hockey championship. In a quarterfinal match played in Monchengladbach, Germany, India defeated Spain 4-2 after the teams were locked 2-2 at the breather.
India's Australian coach Neil Hawgood said: "The success has come from all the big losses we suffered in the World League Round 3. The experience has helped in the junior World Cup. The girls were a bit nervous at the beginning but they showed character and continued to work for 70 minutes."
India recovered twice after Spain took a seventh lead when Xantal Gine converted a penalty corner. India equalized in the 10th minute through a field goal scored by Monika. Spain made it 2-1 in the 30th minute with a field goal scored by skipper Berta Bonastre. But Spanish joy was short-lived when Navneet Kaur made it 2-2 with just seconds left for half-time. Navneet scored with a lovely reverse flick.
India emerged a better side in the second session. Vandana Katariya scored from a penalty corner in the 41st minute to give India the lead for the first time in the match (3-2). Seven minutes later, Rani made the issue safe for India (4-2). The Indians defended well for a good 22 minutes to thwart the Spanish girls to become the first team to earn a berth in the last four of the World Cup.
Captain and goalkeeper Sushila Chanu Pukhrambam said: "The key was scoring goals and the team spirit. We wanted to win this match and played fast throughout the whole game. We are very excited now as we have never reached the semi-finals before. Of course, we would love to qualify for the final."
Rani said: "This is amazing. It is a great day for hockey in India. I knew that we will win today if we keep up the pressure."