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

Indian women's hockey team will take on Great Britain in the bronze medal match on Friday at the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games (Image courtesy: Twitter/@mygovindia)

Indian women's hockey team will take on Great Britain in the bronze medal match on Friday and the men in blue clash with Germany, also for a bronze, on Thursday at the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games. While the Olympic gold medal match in the women's section will be played between the Netherlands and Argentina on Friday, the men's hockey gold medal clash tomorrow will take place between the two highest ranked teams in the world, with Australia, Olympic champions at Athens 2004, set to face reigning world champions Belgium, silver medallists at Rio 2016. 

Argentina overcame a magnificent challenge from the Indian women to win the semifinal 2-1 with 37-year-old captain Noel Barrionuevo rolling back the years by scoring two penalty corner drag-flicks to guide her team to victory. 
"The tournament is not over yet. We still have a chance to win a bronze medal and we will see what we can work on and go into the match with a different mindset. An Olympic medal is a medal. If you win gold that is nice but still bronze is a medal, so we will fight for that medal and we will focus on the next match," said Indian captain Rani Rampal after today's defeat. 
India – who finished fourth in Pool A but stunned highly-rated Australia in the quarterfinals with a 1-0 win – took the lead inside the opening two minutes when Gurjit Kaur rattled the backboard with a superb penalty corner drag-flick. However, it was the contribution of veteran defender Barrionuevo that proved decisive for Las Leonas, firing her team into their third Olympic final. 

After Gurjit's stunning penalty corner drag-flick goal, Argentina pulled themselves level when Noel Barrionuevo produced the kind of goal she was famous for a decade ago, sending an unstoppable penalty corner drag-flick rocket to the right of India goalkeeper Savita. 
Barrionuevo struck again six minutes into the third quarter, although there was more than an element of fortune about her second goal, which clipped the shinpad of an India player to completely deceive Savita before nestling into the corner. It was Barrionuevo's 197th international goal in 344 appearances for her country, but few have been as important. 
India – who were rarely outplayed by the South American giants – came agonisingly close to equalising with just 20 seconds of the match remaining, as Navneet Kaur guided a deflection towards the bottom left corner only for Argentina goalkeeper Belen Succi to make a brilliant save, kicking out her right boot to put Las Leonas into the gold medal game. 
"I think we were prepared to have a match like this. We knew that India was going to do their best until the end, they reached the semi-final so that means they are a great team too," said Argentina's Agustina Gorzelany. 
Argentina’s opponents in the gold medal match will be the Netherlands, who are now just one win away from being in possession of the World, European, FIH Hockey Pro League and Olympic titles. 
Fascinatingly, Argentina were the last team to beat the Netherlands, inflicting defeat on the Dutch during their FIH Hockey Pro League encounter in Buenos Aires in February 2020, with the Oranje claiming a 3-1 victory the following day.  
The Netherlands booked their ticket to the final with yet another dazzling display at the Oi Hockey Stadium, overpowering Rio 2016 gold medallists Great Britain 5-1 in this morning’s first semifinal. It is a fifth successive Olympic final for the Oranje, giving them a chance to claim their fourth Olympic crown against the team that they defeated to the gold medal at London 2012. 

Also Read: Two young guns from Haryana light up India's show at the Tokyo Olympic Games