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Asian Games 2023: Indian Secures Women's Hockey Bronze By Defeating Defending Champions Japan 2-1

The Indian women thus avenged their 0-1 defeat against Japan in the last edition of the Games in Jakarta in 2018. 

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Indian National Women's Hockey Team after securing bronze medal on Saturday.
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A wounded Indian women's hockey team rose from the shock semifinal loss to edge past defending champions Japan 2-1 and claim the bronze medal at the Asian Games in Hangzhou on Saturday. up stage.  (Medal Tally | Full Coverage)

The Indians, ranked seventh in the world, were the favourites to win the gold here but one bad match cost them dearly as hosts China thrashed them 4-0 in the semifinal on Thursday.

The Indian women thus avenged their 0-1 defeat against Japan in the last edition of the Games in Jakarta in 2018. 

But the Savita Punia-led side left behind the disappointment and displayed commanding hockey to clinch its seventh Asian Games medal and fourth bronze.

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Deepika gave India the lead in the fifth minute from a penalty stroke before Japan equalised through Yuri Nagai from a penalty corner in the 30th minute.

Sushila Chanu, a rare goal scorer, handed India the winning goal in the 50th minute from a set piece gone wrong.

India started brightly and went on the offensive from the onset.

The Indians pressed hard and that resulted in their first goal in the fifth minute through a penalty stroke, which was perfectly converted by Deepika. 

India kept on pressing hard and secured a penalty corner but failed to convert the opportunity. The Japanese too threatened the Indians but the Savita-led side was up to the task. 

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It was a midfield tussle between the two in the second quarter with both sides managing a few circle entries but failing to yield any result. 

Japan drew level at the stroke of half time through Nagai who converted a penalty corner. 

After the change of ends, there was hardly anything to differentiate between the two sides. Both India and Japan were engaged in midfield battles with occasional entries into each other's circle.  

After the change of ends, India continued to press hard and created a few chances but failed to pounce on them.

With deadlock still intact, the Indians went on full press in the fourth and final quarter and their efforts bore fruit as they managed to earn a few penalty corners.  

India secured a penalty corner in the fourth quarter but vice-captain Deep Grace Ekka's flick was saved by Japanese goalkeeper Eika Nakamura.

Vaisnavi Vitthal Phalke then missed a sitter from the rebound from the following penalty corner. 

India continued to mount constant pressure on the Japanese defence and secured three penalty corners in succession, the last of which resulted in the winner.

A rare goal scorer, Sushila was at the right place at the right time to scoop the ball in above the goalkeeper's head after receiving a feed from Deep. 

India then earned a few more penalty corners but failed to utilise them. 

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Just three minute from the hooter, India secured another penalty corner but but Deepika's flick was saved by the Japanese goalkeeper. 

India's chief coach Janneke Schopman said Saturday's performance was a revenge of their defeat against China in the semifinal.

"It was a little bit of revenge for our performance in the semifinal. That's the only thing I asked the players, to play hockey because I know we can. We have to do it as a team and I think today you saw how well we can play," the Dutch said. 

"I think we didn't reward ourselves enough today, but it was a dominant performance that I know we can do. I'm really happy that they rewarded themselves today with a medal. I hope everyone can see what kind of players we are and how well we can do."

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Schopman said that gutted after the semifinal loss the players took it upon themselves to review what went wrong against China and she only helped them. 

"Of course, it's hard, but I think the girls are actually really professional. When we came back after dinner the night before, we actually had a very long meeting. It was a tough meeting, where words were said that needed to be said.

"And then even the next morning, I think there were still some things that weren't clear. They decided to watch the first quarter of the China game, just to get awareness of what actually happened. I didn't get involved. I think they took an hour and 15 minutes to watch the first 15 minutes. I think then it was pretty clear for them as well," she said. 

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"That was our main message throughout the last two days. We have to be this team. I know we're there somewhere. I think that's what they picked up on. They had another team meeting themselves, without me. Of course, we prepared for Japan as well," Schopman added.

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