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Indian women’s hockey team in Olympic quarterfinals after 41 years, men take on Britain in knockout game today

Before 2016, the women's team had finished on the fourth spot in their maiden Olympic appearance at the 1980 Moscow Olympics (Image courtesy: Twitter/@TheHockeyIndia

The Indian women's hockey team made it to the quarterfinals of the Olympic Games for the first time in 41 years, ending Saturday on a positive note for the contingent at the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games.  

After having beaten South Africa 4-3 in a nail biting encounter in the morning, India moved to the fourth place in their pool but had to wait until late evening to know if it was enough to progress to the next stage.

A victory – even by the narrowest of margins – for fifth placed Olympic debutants Ireland against champion Great Britain team would have been enough to snatch the quarterfinal qualification away from the Indians.

However, the Irish dream run ended with a 0-2 loss against the Rio 2016 gold medallists, thus paving for India to secure a place in the knock-out stages.

After appearing in the Olympics for the first time in 36 years at the Rio Games in 2016, the Indian women's hockey team had already made history by qualifying for their second consecutive Games at Tokyo.  

Before 2016, the women's team had finished on the fourth spot in their maiden Olympic appearance at the 1980 Moscow Olympics.

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.

The Rani Rampal-led side will now be taking on the mighty Australians in their quarterfinal match on Monday.

Meanwhile on Sunday, Pool A runners up India – the eight times Olympic gold medallists – will be up against Great Britain in their men’s quarter-final match at the Oi Hockey Stadium

An Olympic semifinal berth has eluded the Indian men since the 1980 Moscow Olympic Games where the team led by V Baskaran won the eighth gold medal for India, also their last in the sport till date.

"To be honest, facing any of the four European teams who have come directly from the Euro Championships was always going to be a difficult quarterfinal game. I think it really matters on which one you get. But probably Great Britain are the ones we are comfortable with and very confident with. I think if we play the way we know that we can, then definitely victory is possible," said Chief Coach Graham Reid told Hockey India ahead of the game.
Barring the shocking show against Australia (1-7) in their second game, India did well to finish second in their pool with wins against New Zealand (3-2), Spain (3-0), Argentina (3-1) and Japan (5-3).

Reid believes that India will need to carry forward the momentum from these wins into the quarterfinal.

When you look at our performances in the last four-five games, apart from the Australian one which was really disappointing result, the rest have been about building performance levels. I think we are reasonably happy with how things have gone," he said.

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