Hockey: India continues to corner glory, adds Asian Women Hockey5s title to its kitty
Indian hockey has touched a new high by winning four titles at the continental level this year so far. It is now not only the continental champion in both junior men and women but also the winner of the Asian Champions Trophy for men. It added another feather to its cap when it also won the inaugural Women’s Hockey5s Asia Cup 2023 defeating Thailand in a thrilling concluding game at Salalah, Oman, on its fourth and final day. This glory comes hours after Neeraj Chopra won the country’s first ever gold medal in World Athletics.
Hockey5s is a shorter version of the game played on a smaller playfield.
This ground-breaking event marked the first Hockey5s Championship at the Asian level and served as the qualifier for the prestigious FIH Hockey5s World Cup which incidentally, will also be held at the same venue early next year.
While Oman secured its place as the host nation for the World Cup, the top three teams in this tournament, India, Thailand, and Malaysia, earned their tickets to the World Cup.
The men’s Hockey5s Asia Cup will also be conducted at the same venue from Monday where India starts its campaign with a game against Bangladesh. Interestingly, another major hockey event, Asian Champions Trophy for women, will be held at Ranchi in Jharkhand simultaneously. Six teams, including China, Japan, Korea and Malaysia besides the hosts India will be participating in the Ranchi tournament.
In the women’s Hockey5s Asia Cup, India started well with a 7-2 win against Malaysia, followed by a 7-1 win over Japan before Thailand put up an excellent fight and made India to struggle hard for a 5-4 win. In the semi-finals, India overcame Malaysia 9-5 before facing tough Thai girls again for the title match. This time, India played to its strategy successfully and won 7-2.
In the final, India showcased its dominance, controlling the game and securing a 7-2 victory. Kujur Mariana and Jyoti scored two goals each, while Monika Dipi Topno, Navjot Kaur, and Mahima Chaudhary contributed to India’s goal tally. Thailand put up a valiant fight, with goals from Kunjira Inpa and Kornkanok Shanpoung. Jyoti was adjudged Player of the Match.
Earlier, in the other semi-final Thailand defeated Indonesia 5-2.
The most evenly contested match of the tournament was for the bronze medal played between Malaysia and Indonesia. After the two teams could not resolve the 4-4 deadlock, the penalty shootout rule was introduced that allowed the Malaysians to book their berth in the next year’s World Cup.
Japan claimed fifth position with a hard fought 5-3 win over Hong Kong China.
Iran claimed the ninth position with a 6-1 victory over the hosts Oman. Bangladesh beat Chinese Taipei 8-5 to take the seventh position.
Special awards: Top Scorer of the Tournament: Pal Orpita, Bangladesh
Promising Goalkeeper of the Tournament: Solanki Bansari, India
Best Goalkeeper of the Tournament: Rombiak Iryani, Indonesia
Rising Star Player of the Tournament: Muhammad Zati, Malaysia
Best Player of the Tournament: Aunjai Natthakaran, Thailand
Final Standings:India, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Japan, Hong Kong China, Chinese Taipei, Bangladesh, Iran, Oman
(Prabhjot Singh is a veteran journalist with over three decades of experience of 14 years with Reuters News and 30 years with The Tribune Group, covering a wide spectrum of subjects and stories. He has covered Punjab and Sikh affairs for more than three decades besides covering seven Olympics and several major sporting events and hosting TV shows.)