Impatience nearly cost us the match, says Rani Rampal
Rani Rampal played a key role in Indian eves' win over Italy in a play-off match of the Hockey World League Semifinals here to keep their Rio Olympic dreams alive, but the ace striker feels they could have paid a heavy price for their impatience on Thursday.
Antwerp (Belgium): Rani Rampal played a key role in Indian eves' win over Italy in a play-off match of the Hockey World League Semifinals here to keep their Rio Olympic dreams alive, but the ace striker feels they could have paid a heavy price for their impatience on Thursday.
India defeated lower-ranked Italy 5-4 in the shoot-out after both the teams were level at 1-1 at the end of regulation 60 minutes.
And Rani, who scored India's equaliser in the second half before taking two successful attempts in the shoot-out, said they wasted chances galore and should have sealed the match in regulation time.
"We should have won the match in regulation period itself, but it seems we got impatient inside the rival circle," said Rani, who scored India's equaliser after they had conceded a goal to Italy against the run of play.
"Our impatience could have proved very costly, but we're glad to keep alive the dream of qualifying for the 2016 Olympic Games," she added.
The match was tied 1-1 after 60 minutes of regulation period. The shootout failed to break the deadlock as both teams scored four times each and the issue was decided in the first attempt during the sudden-death that followed.
Rani also scored in the shoot-out and was then asked to take the first Indian attempt in the sudden-death.
Rani again duly converted her attempt, but the shot landed on target with less than half a second left. No other Indian try was required as goalkeeper Savita brought off a save against Giuliana Ruggieri.
Rani said India should have scored more often in regulation period, which they dominated all along. "We should have scored more goals," says Rani, who played the match after getting three stitches over her eye after getting injured in the last game against World champions The Netherlands on Tuesday.
Rani herself had several more scoring chances in the last quarter of the match, but failed to have a good crack in the crowded scoring zone. The victory in the first play-off has taken India into the contest for the fifth and sixth positions.
If India manages to clinch the fifth spot, it would give them a good chance of qualifying for the Olympic Games for the first time since their only appearance at Moscow in 1980.
India's opponent in the next match will be the winner of the play-off between hosts Belgium and Japan. Three Olympic spots are on offer in this tournament, but even some teams not advancing to the semifinals are likely to qualify as some of the five continental champions have already booked their tickets to Rio de Janeiro.
Rani also said the coaching staff made the team practice shoot-outs for the entire training session yesterday. "We practiced shoot-outs yesterday, and that seems to have come handy," she said.
Rani was a member of the Indian team that lost the final of an Olympic qualifying tournament to South Africa in 2012 in New Delhi.