India justified their status as pre-tournament favourites by winning the Hero Hockey World League Round 2 event in New Delhi’s Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium courtesy of a 3-1 final victory over Poland.
In a thriiling game, the in-form Poles (FIH World Ranking: 26) gave the top-ranked Indians (WR: 13) a real test with Oriana Walasek cancelling out an early strike from tournament top scorer Vandana Katariya. However, goals from Junior Player of the Tournament Rani Rampal and team captain Ritu Rani gave the Eves a 3-1 triumph over a side that has greatly impressed and will join them in the Olympic qualifier phase of the Hockey World League.
“We are very happy that we won”, said a delighted Ritu Rani immediately after the match. “We played well but I think we could have played better. From here we will concentrate on Round 3 and we should feel confident about our performance here.”
Poland’s fantastic contribution to the tournament was recognised in the individual awards, with team captain Marlena Rybacha being named Player of the Tournament while Marta Kucharska was named Goalkeeper of the Tournament.
Malaysia emerged victorious in the battle for 3rd place with a 3-0 victory over Thailand. Norazlin Sumantri opened the scoring in the 11th minute before the brilliant Fazilla Sylvester Silin, unquestionably one of the stars of the tournament, bagged two penalty corners to put the result beyond all doubt.
Earlier in the day, Russia ended their tournament on a high with a comprehensive win against Kazakhstan to take 5th place while Ghana claimed 7th with a narrow triumph over Singapore.
In the women’s Hockey World League, a total of seven qualification places for the HWL Semi-Finals are available from the Round 2 events in Montevideo (URU), New Delhi (IND) and Dublin (IRL). The reason for seven rather nine qualifiers is because both Spain and Belgium, two nations ranked between 12-19 at the time of seeking entries, are hosting Semi-Final tournaments later this year and have therefore already qualified.
The top two finishers from Montevideo, New Delhi and Dublin are certain to qualify for the Semi-Finals, being joined by the highest ranked of the third placed finishers from those three events. Italy and Uruguay recently confirmed their places in the Semi-Finals with a top two finish at the event in Montevideo, and are now joined by India and Poland. Azerbaijan are currently the highest ranked of the third place finishers, although they will need to wait for the completion of the HWL Round 2 event in Dublin before knowing if they have made the cut. To learn more about how the teams progress through the competition in the hope of reaching the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, click here.
Hero Hockey World League Round 2 – Women – New Delhi, India
1: India – Qualified for Semi-Finals of Hockey World League
2: Poland – Qualified for Semi-Finals of Hockey World League
Player of the Tournament: Marlena Rybacha (POL)
Top Scorer: Vandana Katariya (IND) – 11 goals
Young Player of the Tournament: Rani Rampal (IND)
Goalkeeper of the Tournament: Marta Kucharska (POL)
Source and Photograph: FIH.CH