Rio 2016 | Indian women's hockey team end historic campaign on a disappointing note

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© Hockey India

Rio 2016 | Indian women's hockey team end historic campaign on a disappointing note

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SportsCafe Desk

08/13/2016

There were no unwarranted expectations attached to the team which traveled to Rio. There was just elation about making it there after 36 years. Yet, when they walked onto the pitch to face Argentina, they still had hopes of making it through, and that came to a grinding halt with a 0-5 defeat.

Argentina dominated possession from the start of the game, and Indian goalkeeper Savita was forced into an early save by Maria Campoy in the 7th minute. It was just a sign of things to come. India managed to keep them at bay for most of the first quarter, but in the last second, Argentina earned a penalty corner when Namita Toppo committed a foul inside the circle. Argentine captain Carla Rebecchi stepped up to take the penalty corner, but her low drive was brilliantly kept out by Savita.

However, Argentina took the lead just seconds into the second quarter through Martina Cavallero. Carla Rebecchi’s initial shot was saved by Savita, but Martina was on hand to turn in the rebound. This goal started a spell of 13 minutes during which Argentina scored 5 goals.

In the 22nd minute, Maria Granatto scored for the South American side to make it 2-0, and four minutes later, they came up with a lovely move from a penalty corner to make it 3-0. The stopper made a behind-her-back pass towards Carla Rebecchi, who was three feet ahead and caught the defence unaware, and the Argentine captain found the left-bottom corner for the net.

An own goal from India made it 4-0 in the 26th minute. Argentina moved the ball well down the left flank, and a shot by Agustina Albertarrio from a narrow angle, which was not on target, deflected off an India defender's stick and went in. Martina Cavallero made it 5-0 just two minutes later.

The half did not end fast enough for India, who were taken apart by a brilliant Argentine side. After all the grit and resolve the girls had shown so far in the event, despite the gulf between themselves and their competitors, they wilted under the pressure. Coach Andrew Neil Hawgood was devastated, as he held his forehead, and looked a sorry figure on the sidelines.

After the meltdown of the second quarter, India came out in the third quarter looking much more composed. Perhaps, the fact that they were once again playing without the pressure of any expectation helped them to regain their feet in the match. India had a goal disallowed in the 44th minute, but it would have only been a consolation.

The match ended 5-0 in favour of Argentina, and India are now likely to finish at the bottom of the group. Their Olympic stint has come to a disappointing end, but as they say, it is the journey that matters more than the destination. Well played, girls!

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