Indian women's team beat Japan 1-0 to virtualy seal Rio berth
Antwerp (Belgium): Skipper Ritu Rani, who has two Asian Games bronze medals (2006 and 2014), was over the moon after India's 1-0 win over Japan to take the fifth place, which in all probability should take India to the Olympics.
"It will be a dream come true for me. I was so upset when did not qualify in 2012. Now we are now fifth and should be there, but maybe even sixth can make it, but fifth feels better. After playing since 2006, it feels great to make it to the Olympics. It was a big goal in my career," said Ritu, who has also played two Commonwealth Games and led India at the 2014 Asian Games.
Rani, a match-winner
Match-winner Rani Rampal, India's top scorer with four goals, added, "It is a fantastic moment, first time we are going to qualify (India did play in 1980) and I cannot describe how happy I am. It was nice to score early and we know in such matches, teams usually win by only one or two goals. In the last quarter we gave too many penalty corners but our defense did well and saved them."
Coach Mathias Ahrens, who joined the team less than six weeks before this event, was ecstatic and said, "The job has been. We are ranked in the tournament at fifth. It is too early to say we have qualified, but we should make it to Olympics at fifth. Let's see how it goes."
Indian women celebrate their win over Italy in a Hockey World League play-off match on Friday
He added, "It was a great performance. This was the seventh game for the girls and it came against an opposition, which is known for its physical strength. We matched them today."
Savita: My best match
Goalkeeper Savita called it the best match of her life. "It was the best. It was a tough match and I am happy with the way I played in this match and overall. "I had to take shots on my body also and I did that at least three times. It is a great moment for all of us."