India: Preview: The 14th Hockey India Senior Women’s National Championship: Stage set for exhilarating Semi-Finals

~Star-studded Hockey Haryana to play last year’s Bronze medalists Hockey Jharkhand in their Semi Final~

~Defending Champions Hockey Madhya Pradesh will face hosts Hockey Maharashtra in their Semi-Final~

Pune, 21st March: After the 14th Hockey India Senior Women National Championship witnessed Hockey Madhya Pradesh, Hockey Haryana, Hockey Jharkhand and Hockey Maharashtra winning their respective Quarter-Finals at the Major Dhyanchand Hockey Stadium Pimpri, Pune on Wednesday, the focus shifts to the Semi-Finals which promises enthralling hockey. Hockey Haryana will face Hockey Jharkhand while Hockey Madhya Pradesh will take on Hockey Maharashtra in the Semi-Finals. Both games are scheduled to take place on 22nd March.

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

“We won quite comfortably in the group stage but we faltered a little bit in the Quarter-Finals against the Hockey Association of 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. Hockey 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,” Hockey Haryana Coach Azad Singh Malik said ahead of their Semi-Final clash against Hockey Jharkhand. It must be mentioned that Hockey Haryana lost 1-2 to Hockey Jharkhand in the 3rd/4th place playoff in the previous edition of the tournament.

Hockey Jharkhand posted a commanding win over Hockey Andhra Pradesh 13-0 before drawing with Uttar Pradesh Hockey 2-2 to top Pool C on the basis of a higher goal difference than Uttar Pradesh Hockey. They then went on to defeat Hockey Mizoram 2-1 in a closely contested Quarter-Final to set up a Semi-Final clash with Hockey Haryana. Hockey Jharkhand Coach Sumrai Tete spoke about the team’s performance and how they were going to approach the Semi-Finals. 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. Hockey 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, Hockey Madhya Pradesh, secured a spot in the Semi-Finals following a gripping 1-1 (4-3 SO) victory against Hockey Bengal in the Quarter-Finals. Prior to this, they emerged as leaders of Pool A by defeating Chhattisgarh Hockey with a score of 8-0 and triumphing over Hockey Bihar with a 7-1 victory.

Speaking ahead of the Semi-Finals against Hockey 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 Semi-Finals 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 Hockey Maharashtra beat Delhi Hockey 3-0 and Kerala Hockey 10-0 to top Pool B and set up a clash with Manipur Hockey in the Quarter-Finals. They beat Manipur Hockey 2-1 to qualify for the Semi-Finals. They will next take on Hockey Madhya Pradesh, a team they lost against in the Final in last year’s edition of the tournament, in the Semi-Finals.

Hockey 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 the defending Champions Hockey 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 Semi-Finals,” he said.

Hockey Jharkhand will face Hockey Haryana in the Semis at 1800hrs IST while Hockey Madhya Pradesh will play Hockey Maharashtra in the other Semi-Final at 2000hrs IST, both on 22nd March.

All the matches will be live-streamed on FanCode.

By Hockey India

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