Valencia: The Indian hockey team won the Women’s FIH Nations Cup 2022 final on Saturday with a 1-0 victory over Spain, securing their spot in the 2023-24 FIH Pro League.
Promotion to the Women’s Pro League hockey for the next season was up for grabs for the winner of the Women’s FIH Nations Cup, which had just concluded its inaugural season. In the opening quarter, Gurjit Kaur (5′) scored the lone goal which eventually turned out to be a game-winning goal.
Spain played well in the first minutes of the game and nearly took the lead, but India captain Savita Punia, the shootout star against Ireland in the semifinals, made a quick save with her toes to stop the Spanish effort from a penalty corner as per the Olympics website.
India won its first penalty corner of the match at the five-minute mark. Head coach Janneke Schopman has been concerned about India’s dismal penalty corner conversion rate throughout the tournament, but Gurjit Kaur came through with a precise drive to give India the lead.
Following the first goal, India, the eighth-ranked hockey team in the world, and Spain, who have both maintained perfect defensive records in the competition, kept things tight at the back.
Prior to the halftime horn, only two decent goal chances came from penalty corners. At full stretch, Spain’s Clara Perez was able to stop Gurjit from scoring again, while Savita made another outstanding save with her feet to keep out an effort from Lucia Jimenez.
India had a 1-0 lead going into the second half, and both teams stepped up their offensive effort. Clara Perez once more stepped in to save a goal and keep her team in the reckoning as India came near to doubling their lead through a penalty corner.
As the game progressed, Spain started to pose threat to the Indian defence. Lucia Jimenez finally defeated Savita after receiving a free hit with five minutes remaining in the third quarter. But following a review by the Indian team, the goal was ruled out for a foul committed during the buildup.
With a 1-0 deficit into the fourth quarter, the host team once more had the ball in the Indian goal following a goalmouth scramble, but the on-field referee disallowed it this time because of a foul. Spain ran out of reviews to support their request.
The Indian squad needed some desperate defence in addition to some good fortune to retain their slim lead as the host team kept up the pressure in pursuit of a game-tying goal. India survived a late Spanish storm to retain the victory, the championship, and a promotion to the Women’s FIH Pro League the next year. (ANI)