Ex-Mumbai hockey star Viren Rasquinha on India eve Asia Cup glory: Bigger than men’s winNovember 6, 2017
Olympian and former hockey captain Viren Rasquinha rated the Indian women’s team Asia Cup title much higher than the men’s win in Dhaka, Bangladesh last month. Yesterday, the women’s side beat China 5-4 via a shootout in Japan to qualify for next year’s World Cup. The team broke a 13-year jinx when skipper Rani scored the final goal and Savita foiled an attempt from the rivals to ensure a 5-4 win. India had failed to qualify for the last World Cup and finished ninth in the 2010 edition.
A perfect team effort
Yesterday, Rani scored twice while Monica, Lilima Minz and Navjot scored a goal each in the shootout. Earlier, it was Navjot Kaur who scored India’s lone goal in the 25th minute while China scored a late equaliser through Tiantian Luo, who converted a penalty corner in the 47th minute. The Indian women’s team last clinched the Asia Cup in 2004 when they beat Japan 1-0.
“It’s a massive win for the Indian women’s side. It’s a much bigger win than the men’s recent victory at Asia Cup. The men were firm favourties for the tournament while the women were ranked fourth in Asia behind China, Korea and Japan. They beat China twice in the tournament; they beat reigning Asia Cup champions Japan in the semi-finals. If you look at the Asia Cup stats, India and China had played 10 times before the tournament. China won six and drew four. China had a far superior record going into the tournament, so I think it’s an excellent win,” Rasquinha told mid-day yesterday.
Praise for Harendra
He praised coach Harendra Singh as well. “Full marks to the team and also to coach Harendra. He has done a fabulous job. I have no doubt in my mind that he is the best coach in the country at the moment. He has worked extremely hard and when I went for my first junior tournament in 1998, he was the assistant coach of the junior team. He has improved tremendously in all aspects of coaching over the years. He is one of the few coaches in India who is genuinely world-class and the women’s team should be happy to have him.