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  Hockey: Indian men, women get closer to Olympic berths
BHUBANESWAR,01 Nov 2019 (Team Orisports)

Both the men and women hockey teams of hosts India reached the doorstep of 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games, registering comprehensive wins in the first of respective two-leg FIH Qualifiers here at Kalinga Stadium today. Indian women set up what turned out to be a memorable day for the country, trouncing lower-ranked United States of America 5-2, while Indian men prevailed over Russia 4-2.

In the men’s match, Mandeep Singh scored a brace for India (World Rank 5) and bagged the award as the Player of the match. His teammates Harmanpreet Singh and SV Sunil contributed one goal each. The Russians (World Rank 22), however, put up a good show this time, scoring twice through Andrey Kuraev and Semen Matkovskiy. This was the second meeting between the two nations with India registering a thumping 10-0 win in their first head-to-head clash here during the FIH World Cup earlier this year.


The women’s match earlier in the day was almost a one-sided affair with India (World Ranking 9) leading 3-0 at the half-way stage against USA (World Ranking 13). Odisha midfielder Lilima Minz opened the floodgates for India in the 28th minute. She was followed by Gurjit Kaur with a brace and Sharmila Devi and Navneet Kaur with one apiece. Erin Matson pulled one back for USA, converting a penalty stroke. India captain Rani Rampal was adjudged the Player of the Match.


MEN: India (Harmanpreet Singh 5-PS, Mandeep Singh 24-FG, 53-FG, SV Sunil 48-PC) beat Russia (Andrey Kuraev 17-FG, Semen Matkovskiy 60-PC) 4-2.
WOMEN: India (Lilima Minz 28-PC, Sharmila Devi 40-PC, Gurjit Kaur 42-PC, 51-PS, Navneet Kaur 46-FG) beat USA (Erin Matson 54-PS) 5-1.
------------------------------------------------------------------------- PHOTOS -------------------------------------------------------------------------
TOP: Mandeep Singh (Centre) celebrates with SV Sunil after scoring a goal for India in the Olympic Qualifiers against Russia in Bhubaneswar on 1 November, 2019.
RIGHT: India women team captain Rani Rampal receives the Player of the Match Award from Union Sports Minister Kiren Rijiju after their Olympic Qualifier against USA in Bhubaneswar on 1 November, 2019.


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