The Indian women’s hockey team have qualified for the 2018 World Cup, thanks to South Africa.
By beating Ghana 4-0 to take home the African Cup of Nations on Sunday for the seventh time, South Africa, who have already qualified for the World Cup, offered India a smooth passage into next summer’s tournament. The win came as little surprise since South Africa have taken the title home in every edition since 1994.
This result also renders India’s current campaign at the Asia Cup in Kakamighara, Japan, essentially a qualifier to the World Cup, slightly redundant.
India’s eighth-place finish at the Hockey World League semifinals in Johannesburg in July this year and superior world ranking (No. 12) as opposed to contenders like Belgium (No. 14) helped assure the side of a spot in the quadrennial event. “I think this will be a great opportunity for our girls,” senior Indian men’s team goalkeeper PR Sreejesh told ESPN. “It will also give them more responsibility and motivation to work harder and Harendra [Singh] sir’s experience will be an added bonus.”
So far, India have made six appearances in the women’s World Cup, with a fourth-place finish in 1974 their best showing till date. Beginning life afresh under new coach Harendra Singh at the Asia Cup, the Rani Rampal-led side, which is fielding five changes in the tournament from their tour of the Netherlands and Belgium, started on a dominant note with a 10-0 win over Singapore in the opener on Saturday.