India clinched the inaugural FIH Women’s Nation’s Cup title with a 1-0 win over Spain in the summit clash, in Valencia on Saturday. The win sealed India’s berth in the 2023-24 Pro League. Gurjit Kaur scored the all-important goal in the sixth minute from the penalty corner as the Commonwealth Games bronze medalists ended the eight-nation tournament with five wins on the trot. The Janneke Schopman-coached side had beaten Ireland 2-1 via shootout in the semifinals here on Friday.
India were ranked a spot below Spain (seventh) in the FIH chart.
By virtue of winning the Nations Cup, the Indian team has been promoted to the 2023-24 FIH Hockey Women’s Pro League, a key event ahead of next year’s Asian Games and 2024 Paris Olympics.
It was Spain who first earned an early penalty corner but Indian captain and goalkeeper Savita Punia made an excellent save.
India earned their first penalty corner in the sixth minute and converted it to take the lead.
Drag-flicker Gurjit Kaur sent the ball to the left side of the Spanish goalkeeper Clara Perez and managed to beat her.
India played brilliantly at the start of the second quarter.
Lalremsiami earned a PC for the team but this time Gurjit could not manage to beat the goalkeeper with her drag-flick.
Spain soon regrouped and made several raids on the Indian circle before earning a PC at the halfway stage of the second quarter.
However, the home side failed to find the back of the net as Savita stood tall in front of the goal. India were 1-0 up at the end of half time.
Spain began the second half aggressively in search of an equaliser and Savita came off the lines to make a fine save.
India got a chance to score their second goal of the match after they earned a PC but the Spanish goalkeeper was alert and dived to the right of the goalpost to keep her team in the game.
Spain controlled the possession brilliantly and showed excellent ball rotation in India’s half and it nearly paid off when Lucia Jimenez put the ball in the back of the net.
However, the goal was disallowed as the ball did not travel five meters outside India’s circle after the umpire gave a free hit to Spain.
The final quarter saw exciting action between both teams. Spain pressed high in search of their first goal and earned a PC 10 minutes before the full time whistle.
However, the Indian defence stood firm and kept the ball away from their net.
Salima Tete found herself in a goal-scoring position in the opposition half but she failed to beat Clara Perez with a tomahawk.
Spain, then, earned a PC late in the quarter but Savita dived to her right to make an excellent save.
Hockey India announced Rs 2 lakh for each player and Rs 1 lakh for each support staff for winning the tournament.
India and Spain had played in the FIH women’s Hockey Pro League 2021-22 season as replacement teams after pull-outs by Australia and New Zealand due to COVID-19 related issues.
India had finished a creditable third in the 2021-22 FIH Pro League. The country has not qualified for the ongoing 2022-23 Pro League season.
(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)
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