Chinese win thriller, but Indians hope for revenge in final
Chinese win thriller, but Indians hope for revenge in tonight's final
In the end, it proved to be a dress rehearsal for the final and, if tonight's clash to decide the winners of the 4th Asian Women's Champions Trophy is anything like the battle China and India put on yesterday at the Sengkang Hockey Stadium, then fans are in for a treat.
In an exciting final pool game, China pipped India 3-2 to take over top spot.
They will meet again in the final, with Japan and South Korea squaring off in the play-off for third and fourth.
Both the Chinese and Indian teams featured players from the national development squad.
China went 2-0 up through field goals by Yang Chen (35th min) and Qiu Guo (51), but India stormed back to draw level.
In a frantic finish that had everyone on the edge of their seats, the Indians reduced arrears almost immediately when Rani Poonam struck through a penalty corner in the 52nd minute and three minutes later, the scoreline was level after a goal by captain Katariya Vandana.
Three minutes later, China's Ou Zixia struck the winner via a penalty corner.
Despite their terrific win last night, China's coach Weng Hai Qin, 42, expressed concerned over his players' fatigue.
Speaking to The New Paper, the 42-year-old said: "The girls played okay, but they did seem to be tired and under the weather.
"Today, our player Chou Yu was hit by a ball and we'll probably be paying a visit to the hospital later on to ensure she's okay."
The majority of the team will doing battle in the Junior World Cup from Dec 4 to Dec 24 in Santiago, Chile.
"This team are young and they still have many chances to prove themselves," said Weng.
"In the final, the girls will try their best and fight to the finish and, of course, I hope we win."
India coach Neil Hawgood wants his players to recall how they fared in the final quarter of their clash with the Chinese when they enter the final today.
Said Hawgood: "In the eight minutes in the fourth quarter, the girls played smart, something they forgot in the first three periods."
Hawgood, who has been with the girls for four years now, aims to turn India's women's team into a force on the continental stage.
"When I first started, I wanted them to be the best team in Asia, and I really think the girls now understand what it takes to win."
The Indian team may freshen up the roster when they head off to Vancouver from April 1 to 9 next year for Round Two of the Hockey World League.
First, though, there is a final to win.
Said Hawgood: "For the final, I want the girls to move the ball and create chances.
"They need to chase, harry and work all the time."
Earlier yesterday, Japan dominated South Korea to win 3-2, ensuring the two sides will play-off for third today, leaving Malaysia bottom of the five-team standings.
(Both matches at Sengkang Hockey Stadium)
Play-off for third
- Japan v South Korea, 5pm
- China v India, 7.30pm