While limelight in hockey is being hogged at home by the ongoing Hero Hockey India League, India’s senior women players are performing creditably on their tour to Spain. This tour has been designed with an eye at the FIH World League Round 2, which will be held in New Delhi during March 07-15, 2015. The women hockey team went to Spain last week for conditioning themselves and getting as much match preparation as possible. As per their program in the Spanish city of Valencia, Indian women had a schedule of 5 matches during February 14-22, 2015. The first two of these matches are already over and the women have not conceded any goals so far. The first match was played against Spain on February 14 and it ended in a goalless draw. In February 16th second match, however, Indian eves played superbly to beat Spain 1-0. The women will next play against two Dutch hockey clubs; GCHC and HDM on February 19th & 20th respectively before facing Germany on February 22, 2015.
In the first match played against Spain on February 14, the two teams failed to score any goal against each other. Regardless, the match threw up a positive factor from India’s viewpoint. The women put up a solid defense and thwarted the attacks by Spanish forwards time and again. The match began by India taking the ball in the Spanish half on many occasions. But either they could not find the gaps in Spain’s defense or lost the ball possession to Spain. India had two field goal opportunities in counter-attacks but they wasted them both. The Ritu Rani led India side had two new faces; Punam Barla and Renuka Yadav, both of whom made their debuts at the national level. It was a crucial exposure for Barla and Yadav, who did not seem overawed by the occasion. In the second match played against Spain on February 16, Indian women made a promising beginning in the first half and gave a neck-to-neck fight to Spain. Both India and Spain had many goal scoring chances but they could not convert them. As the first half drew near, Spain earned a penalty corner but they failed to capitalize on the opportunity. After a spirited fight from both sides, the first half ended 0-0. In the second half again, both teams launched attack on each other’s goal and the quality of play improved markedly. India entered the Spanish goal area several times and kept the pressure. Indian eves’ determination paid off in the 38th minute, when Vandana Katariya ran purposefully with the ball after receiving a pass in the mid-field. She made no errors with her field effort and shot past Spain’s goalkeeper to put India ahead 1-0. With a goal scored against them, Spanish women tried to find the equalizer by their dominant play. But India fortified their defense and ensured that the women from Spain do not get the all-important equalizer. The pace of the game quickened with players from both sides engaging in the last-minute fight. However, in the remaining time, no more goals could accrue from either side and India ended the day with a 1-0 win. This win should serve as a great boost for the Indians as they await their next match against the Dutch Club GCHC on February 19.
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