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India start bright in Asia Cup

Defending champions sink Malaysia 9-0; China thrash Thailand 6-1

MUSCAT: Defending champions India started their title defence in style with a 9-0 drubbing of Malaysia in the Women’s Asia Cup hockey at the Sultan Qaboos Sports Complex in Muscat on Friday night. In an earlier Pool B match, China thrashed Thailand 6-1. Ahead of the India match, the official opening of the tournament was presided over by Dr Rahma bint Ibrahim bin Said al Mahrouqiyah, Minister of Higher Education, Research and Innovation, in presence of Asian Hockey Federation CEO Dato Tayyab Ikram, Oman Hockey Association (OHA) Chairman Dr Marwan bin Juma al Jumaa and other top officials.

The Royal Oman Police’s all-women band performed an orchestra and the national anthem of the Sultanate of Oman.

Indian women, who narrowly missed a medal in Tokyo 2020 Olympics, slowly settled into the match and produced several attacks to the Malaysian penalty box.

Navneet Kaur, Vandana Katariya and Sharmila Devi scored two goals each while Deep Grace Ekka, Monika and Lalremsiami also found the target.

The big win enabled India to reach the top of Pool A with three points, leap-frogging Japan on goal difference.

Japan had started off with a 6-0 win over Singapore in the first match of Pool A.

Losing teams Singapore and Malaysia are third and fourth with no points.

India, ranked ninth in the world, were in good control of the match against World No 20 Malaysia.


Vandana Katariya, making her 250th appearance for the Indian national team, struck in the eighth minute to score the first goal for the women in blue in the 10th edition of the Asia Cup.

After two minutes, Deep Grace Ekka doubled the lead with a low drag flick from a penalty corner.

Towards the end of the first quarter, Navneet Kaur made it 3-0 for India after beating Malaysian goalkeeper Siti Nassir through a firm hit from inside the circle.

In the second quarter, Malaysia defended with purpose.

However, Navneet Kaur continued to tick the scoreboard as her close-range drive made it 4-0.

India continued their dominance in the third quarter as well, by making constant forays in the Malaysian circle.

Vandana Katariya found the target from a rebound soon as India stormed to a 5-0 lead.

Then the Malaysia defence crumbled under pressure as Indian frontliners Lalremsiami and Monika hit back-to-back goals (38th and 40th minutes) to make it 7-0.

In the final quarter, Malaysia made some attempts at Indian goalmouth, but Indian goalkeeper and captain Savita Punia thwarted all attempts with ease.

Devi Sharmila made it 8-0 in the 46th minute and completed the scoreline with another brilliant field goal with one minute to go for the final whistle.

India will next meet Japan on Sunday.


The Chinese women made their intentions clear with a clinical 6-1 win over Thailand to take the second spot in Pool B behind South Korea.

South Korea, who drubbed Singapore 7-0, took the top position on goal difference.

Jing Yong opened the scoring for China in the 13th minute with a field goal as China led the first quarter 1-0.

Shumin Wang struck in the first minute of second quarter and Mengling Zhong scored in the last minute as China raised the lead to 3-0 at half-time.

Three minutes into the third quarter, Zhong found the target again when she converted a penalty corner.

China pressed ahead in the fourth quarter too despite some whole-hearted efforts from the Thai frontline.

Xue Deng hit the target twice in a span of three minutes (48th and 51st) as China cushioned their lead to 6-0.

The Thai efforts for a consolation goal bore fruit in the last minute as Suwapat Konthong netted Thailand’s first goal in the tournament.

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