Tokyo Olympics: It was do or die, India women hockey goalkeeper Savita Punia recalls coach’s words

India managed to save 8 penalty corners against Australia in the women's quarterfinal
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India scored through Gurjit Kaur and saved as many as 8 penalty corners to beat Australia 1-0 and enter the women’s hockey semifinals for the first time in Olympics history on Monday.

India managed to save 8 penalty corners against Australia in the women's quarterfinal
India managed to save 8 penalty corners against Australia in the women’s quarterfinal

Indian women’s hockey team goalkeeper Savita Punia on Monday revealed the speech that she and her teammates got from national coach Sjoerd Marijne during their quarterfinal match against Australia at Tokyo 2020.

India stunned three-time champions Australia 1-0 thanks to the lone goal from dragflicker Gurjit Kaur in the second quarter to enter the Olympic semifinals for the first time in history.

The win was India’s third in succession and they will now play the last-4 clash on August 4.

“The only thing we thought about was that we have to put in our all, we have 60 minutes with us, and hence, it is imperative we give our 100% efforts.

“We played as a team and helped each other, retackled even if the goal got messed up and kept a calm defence. And we’re extremely happy that our strategy worked in our favour and we won the quarterfinals.

“The coach told us that it was a “Do or Die” situation, we only have 60 minutes and this is either our first match or the last,” Savita Punia said.

Coming into the match, the odds were totally against India as in world no.2 Australia, a mighty unbeaten opponent, awaited them. But the Indians, determined to prove a point, produced a strong and brave performance to eke out the narrow win over the Hockeyroos.

How much it meant for the team and Indian hockey in general could be gauged from the emotions that were on display after the final hooter went off. The players screamed, hugged each other, and got into a huddle with their Dutch coach Sjoerd Marijne with tears of joy rolling down their faces.

“Very happy with the win, everybody worked very hard for this win. We performed like one team and we are feeling so happy to have qualified for the semifinals. Thank you to all those who supported the Indian women’s team,” an elated Gurjit Kaur said after the match.

“This team is like a family, including the coaching staff. Our entire country supports us and everybody’s prayers are with us,” added Gurjit Kaur.

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