Sr Women’s Hockey Nationals: Haryana to play Jharkhand; MP face Maharashtra in semis

Pune, March 21 (IANS) Haryana is set to face Jharkhand while Madhya Pradesh will take on Maharashtra in the semis of the 14th Hockey India Senior Women National Championship scheduled to take place on Friday.

Haryana, the most dominant side in the tournament so far and consisting of 11 international players, reached the quarter-final by defeating Odisha 4-1. Haryana progressed to the knockout round after defeating Assam 15-0 and Le Puducherry 22-0 to top Pool D.

“We won quite comfortably in the group stage but we faltered a little bit in the quarters against Odisha. I think if we can do better defensively and not give away too many penalty corners the way we did in the quarters, we should have a good semi-final. Jharkhand is a wonderful team but if we execute our plans and convert the scoring opportunities we get, I am sure we will do well,” Haryana Coach Azad Singh Malik said ahead of their semis clash against Jharkhand.

It must be mentioned that Haryana lost 1-2 to Jharkhand in the 3rd/4th place playoff in the previous edition of the tournament.

Jharkhand posted a commanding win over Andhra Pradesh 13-0 before drawing with Uttar Pradesh 2-2 to top Pool C based on a higher goal difference than Uttar Pradesh. They then went on to defeat Mizoram 2-1 in a closely contested quarter-final to set up a semi-final clash with Haryana.

Jharkhand coach Sumrai Tete spoke about the team’s performance and how they were going to approach the semis. She said, “The Quarter-Final was a great game. We have played a couple of tight games in this tournament and it has helped us learn to deal with pressure. Haryana is a top-quality team filled with international players, but we have a few of them too and are certainly second to none on ability. We beat them last year and will look to repeat the performance this year.”

The reigning Champions, Madhya Pradesh, secured a spot in the semis following a gripping 1-1 (4-3 SO) victory against Bengal in the quarters.

Prior to this, they emerged as leaders of Pool A by defeating Chhattisgarh with a score of 8-0 and triumphing over Bihar with a 7-1 victory.

Speaking ahead of the semis against Maharashtra, a side they defeated 5-1 in last year’s Hockey India Senior Women National Championship to win the trophy, coach Paramjit Singh said, “We played the quarter-final after a break of six days and were a bit rusty. We didn’t convert the multiple chances we got and that’s why the game was such a close one. I think if we do better in that aspect we can be in more control of the game. It is wonderful to be in the semils again and the players will be very happy with the opportunity. We will go all out and look to cement a place in the final.”

Hosts Maharashtra beat Delhi 3-0 and Kerala 10-0 to top Pool B and set up a clash with Manipur in the quarter-finals. They beat Manipur 2-1 to qualify for the semis. They will next take on Madhya Pradesh, a team they lost against in the final in last year’s edition of the tournament, in the semis.

Maharashtra coach Sagar Bharat Thakur spoke about the team’s performance in the tournament so far. He said, “We had a good outing in the league stage. Although the scoreline of the quarter-final says 2-1, I believe we were well in control for most part of the game. We relaxed a little towards the end but that won’t happen again.” He was also confident of the team putting up a better show against Madhya Pradesh. “We had a very young team last year but now they have all played a significant amount of hockey at good levels. They have grown in maturity and we are certain we’ll put up a great show in the semis,” he said.



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