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India backs women’s hockey team to win their first Olympic medal today

Indian women, already guaranteed to match their previous best Olympic finish, will go all out to win their bronze medal match against Great Britain at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics on Friday (Image courtesy: Twitter/@TheHockeyIndia)

After the Indian men claimed an Olympic medal in hockey for the first time since winning gold at Moscow 1980, the women's team led by Rani Rampal will have the chance to create a moment of sporting history by claiming their first-ever Olympic medal when they take on Great Britain in the bronze medal match, at the Oi Hockey Stadium in Tokyo today.

While Great Britain are targeting a third Olympic medal on the bounce following bronze at London 2012 and gold at Rio 2016, India are already guaranteed to match their previous best Olympic finish, fourth – also at Moscow 1980.

The women's hockey gold medal match will see hot favourites the Netherlands taking on Argentina with the Dutch now just one win away from being in possession of the World, European, FIH Hockey Pro League and Olympic titles.

After producing the performance of their lives to claim a stunning quarterfinal victory over Australia, the Indian women went down fighting 1-2 in their first-ever Olympic semifinal outing against the South American giants Argentina. Rio 2016 gold medallists Great Britain on the other hand, suffered a massive 1-5 defeat at the hands of the Dutch.

Also Read: Olympic dream not over yet, says Indian hockey captain after the semifinal loss in Tokyo

"We played really well against Argentina. However, it was disappointing not to book a place in the Olympic final. We have performed really well in this tournament and we still have a chance to win a medal. We are confident about our individual games and we will give everything we have to win our first Olympic medal. We have a chance to make history on Friday," Rampal told Hockey India, the game's governing body in the country.

Promising that her team will go all out against the reigning World Number 4 team, the captain said the team will look to stay in the moment and focus on executing their plans.

"It'll be all about staying in the moment for us. We have to follow our processes and if we execute our plans properly, we will be able to get a good result in the bronze medal match. We defeated Great Britain in our last encounter against them in February 2020 so we will take a lot of confidence from that match," said the forward.

Chief Coach Sjoerd Marijne, who has already developed a huge fan following in India after guiding the team to its first Olympic semis, said that the semifinal loss hurt women in blue quite a lot but they'll come with renewed energy against the British team on Friday morning.  

"We were really competitive against Argentina. It was about converting the small opportunities and we converted a penalty corner into a goal. We were very close (to making it to the final) so the loss is hurting the team very much, but now it's about recovery and looking forward to the next match. We can still win a medal," said the Dutchman Marijne.

Indian women have been making steady progress in the past few years, moving up the FIH World Rankings as well as making the cut for the major events. Rio 2016 was India's first Olympic appearance since 1980, and they were not only back again for a second successive Games at Tokyo 2020 but also made it to the last four.

Since Rio 2016, the team has experienced the highs of winning the 2016 Asian Champions Trophy, 2017 Asia Cup, the silver medal at the 2018 Asian Games and making it to the quarterfinals of the 2018 World Cup for the first time in history.

That they no longer wilt under pressure has been proved in Tokyo. After starting their Olympic campaign on a disappointing note with three straight defeats, the Indian women made a late surge to beat Ireland (1-0) and South Africa (4-3) in their final two pool games to book a place in the quarterfinals.

A bronze is not too far away if the Indian women display the same resilience today.  

Also Read: Fans say 'chak de India' after women's hockey team scripts history at Tokyo Olympic Games