Indian women’s hockey forward Navneet Kaur’s hat-trick of goals helped defending champions India got off to a flying start as they beat Japan 4-1 in their opening match at the 5th Women’s Asian Champions Trophy at the Sunrise Stadium on Sunday.
Besides Navneet (7′, 25′ and 55′), centre forward Anupa Barla (53′) was the other goal-scorer for India.
India was in the dominating position right from the start as they displayed well-strategised attack to break the strong Japanese defence. An early chance came by when forward Vandana Katariya and Lilima Minz worked in tandem to create space in the striking circle. Navneet Kaur was quick to pick up an assist from Vandana to send the ball past Korean goalkeeper fetching India 1-0.
Good defence led by Indian skipper Sunita Lakra ensured Japan didn’t find too many chances in the circle. It didn’t take long time for Navneet to score her second goal after she was assisted by Vandana in the 25th minute.
Aki Yamada (58′) was the only goal scorer for Japan.
“It was an important match to win because a good start always gives confidence to play better in the next matches to come. This is my first man-of-the-match award in an international arena, and I am very happy about it,” said Navneet Kaur after the match.
“In the absence of our key striker Rani, there was more responsibility on us to create chances and I am happy that our team did really well. Our target is to win this tournament so that we can carry the winning spirit into the Women’s World Cup,” she added.
India will next take on China on May 16 in their second pool stage match at the 5th Women’s Asian Champions Trophy.