Tokyo Olympics 2020: India beat South Africa 4-3 to keep quarterfinal hopes alive in women's hockey
Striker Vandana Katariya scored a historic hat-trick to keep alive the Indian women's hockey team's quarterfinals hopes in the Olympics with a fighting 4-3 victory over lower-ranked South Africa in its must-win final group match here on Saturday. Vandana (4th, 17th, 49th minutes) achieved a rare feat by becoming the first Indian woman hockey player to score a hat-trick in the history of the Olympics.
With the result, India moved to fourth place in the pool standings with six points behind leaders the Netherlands (12 points), Germany (12 points), and Great Britain (six points). Ireland is fifth with three points and South Africa last, failing to score. India’s hopes of making the quarter-final now rest on the outcome of the last Pool A group match between Great Britain and Ireland.
The Indians will have to wait till the evening to know their fate. An Ireland loss or a draw will be enough for India to seal their place in the quarterfinals. However, a victory for Ireland will increase their points tally to six, as many as India, but will take the fourth spot from India based on goal difference. South Africa enjoyed a good run of play in the initial minutes of the final quarter and, in the process, secured three penalty corners quickly, but this time the Indian defense did enough to thwart the dangers.
The final 15 minutes were a do-or-die for India to have a realistic shot at the quarter-finals and three successive penalty corners by South Africa only added to the pressure. The shots were saved. India responded with two successive penalty corners in the 49th minute with Vandana Katariya getting a close-range deflection right for 4-3 for her hat-trick.
In the 49th minute, a brilliant Vandana saved the day for India when she deflected in Gurjit Kaur's flick from another penalty corner. Thereafter, the Indians fell back and looked contend to keep the possession as South Africa pressed hard. Two minutes from the final hooter, the Indians successfully referred a penalty corner decision given against them.