Valencia (Spain): India become the champions of the inaugural FIH Hockey Women’s Nations Cup, narrowly defeating hosts Spain 2-1 in front of an electric crowd in the finals here.
Indian remained unbeaten during the tournament and have now qualified for the FIH Hockey Pro League for the 2023-24 season.
India’s only goal in the Final came from Gurjit Kaur (6′) in Saturday’s final.
It was Spain with the first pushback of the Final, after which both sides looked to control possession, with the home team winning an early PC.
Captain and Goalkeeper Savita made an excellent save before her team earned their first PC. Drag-flicker Gurjit Kaur went to the left side of the Spanish goalkeeper Clara Perez and managed to beat her to put India ahead in the first quarter.
India played brilliantly at the start of the second quarter to break the Spanish press as Lalremsiami earned a PC for the team but this time Gurjit Kaur could not manage to beat the goalkeeper with her drag-flick.
Spain soon regrouped and made several entries in the Indian circle before earning a PC at the halfway stage of the second quarter. However, Spain failed to find the back of the net as Savita stood tall in front of the goal to keep India ahead at the end of halftime.
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 after they earned a PC. 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 before Savita dived to her right to make an excellent save and India won the final by a goal difference.
Hockey India has also announced Rs 2 Lakhs for each player and Rs 1 Lakh for each support staff of the women’s team that won the FIH Women’s Nations Cup 2022.