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Women surge ahead

Women surge ahead
The women of India's national hockey team turned an unlucky number 13 to a virtuous 13, as they clinched the Asia Cup tournament, held in Japan, after a gap of 13 years. With this victory, they enshrined their place in the Women's World Cup, scheduled to be held in London in July, next year. Playing under the guidance of new coach, Harendra Singh, the girls secured a 5-4 victory over China in the shootouts, after the game ended in a 1-1 draw. A proud moment indeed for all Indians, as women have yet again ensured that their performance in hockey has done justice to India's long-standing tradition of success in the sport. The women's team had failed to qualify for the last World Cup, held in 2014, in Netherlands and had finished ninth in the 2010 event, held in Argentina. Emerging as Continental champions, India has comfortably secured her position for the July 2018 World Cup after winning a gruelling tournament that ended with a nail-biting finale between the women in blue and their equally strong counterparts from China, in red. Goalkeeper Savita saved the day for India as she pulled out a stunning save from her kitty, in the shootout, that ensured India's 5-4 win over China as Rani scored twice and Monica, Lilima Minz, and Navjot scored a goal each to seal India's victory in the finale, held at the Kakamigahara Kawasaki Stadium in Japan. The match had ended in a 1-1 tie with a goal from Navjot Kaur in the 25th minute providing India with the lead which was soon matched by China's Tiantian Luo, who successfully converted a penalty corner in the 47th minute. India's last victory in the Asia Cup had come in 2004 as she had secured her victory over Japan with a score of 1-0. With this, both national teams of India—the men's and the women's—have emerged victorious in the Asia Cup, 2017. This comes as a massive boost for India's ambitions, as 2018 is set to a difficult year with the Commonwealth Games, Asian Games and the World Cup, all scheduled to take place. "The year 2018 is very crucial for Indian women's hockey. We have three important tournaments and I expect minimum two medals out of these three tournaments," coach Harendra Singh exclaimed after the final. With their strong team display and an exemplary performance at the Asia Cup, the women of India's national hockey team have given wings to people's expectations. As they are further motivated to escalate heights in 2018, they would deliver a strong message to society—allow little girls to go out and live their dreams without confining them behind the veils of tradition.

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