Spain and India entered the FIH Hockey Women’s Nations Cup Spain 2022 as the two overwhelming favorites, and they proved why they were the favorites by dominating Chile and Ireland, respectively, to win all three of their opening matches.
With less than five minutes remaining in their game against a young South African team, Japan joined Spain and India on three points after their closely contested victory.
India and Japan finish the first day of play in Pool B with 3 points each, with India holding first place over Japan due to their better goal difference. Earlier, in the opening match of the Nations Cup, Korea and Italy could not be separated as both teams took one point each from the draw, this gave Spain a headstart as top of Pool A.
Match 1: Italy and Korea draw 0-0
The FIH Hockey Women’s Nations Cup opener was a cautious affair, but Italy earned a point against higher-ranked Korea. Korea and Italy, two teams that don’t frequently face each other, have only met four times in the past ten years, and both teams took some time to get adjusted to their opponents’ tempo. Being quicker off the mark, Italy won three penalty corners on counterattacks and successfully converted one of them to take the lead. Italy’s captain Federica Carta gave her team the lead in the sixth minute, but Korea’s skipper Eunbi Cheon brought the score back even five minutes later.
Heon added the final touch to an excellent attacking move in which the ball flew past three opponents before landing on her far side and an open goal.
In the second half, neither team made a significant offensive commitment in an effort to take the lead. While Korea had a few half-chances, the Italian defenders stood strong and confidently cleared their lines to gain a crucial point in the Pool A match.
Spain defeated Ireland 2-0 in game two
Spain and Ireland were among the favorites to win the tournament when they squared off, and the action-packed matchup did not disappoint. Spain scored early on in both half from penalty corners to win the game 2-0, although Ireland had a tremendous effort with a strong offensive display that was only surpassed by an even stronger Spanish defense that held firm today.
In the second minute of the match, Clara Ycart scored the game’s first goal for Spain with a low drag flick that put the Irish goalkeeper at an awkward height.
The renowned Spanish defense, which is able to hold off strong Irish attacks, displayed its mettle by keeping the score clean and securing all three points.
The player of the match, Alejandra Torres-Quevedo, who dominated in the middle and added the second goal for Spain, said: “It’s really fantastic to start the tournament at home with a win. Since Ireland is a tough squad, we anticipated a challenging game, and that is exactly what happened, making our victory even sweeter.
Match three: India defeats Chile 3-1
The only mistake India made was giving up a third-quarter penalty corner goal when defenseman Udita redirected a stray shot into the goal through the knees of Savita. India put up an offensive masterclass, maintaining a high press against their Chilean opponents for the whole 60 minutes.
Sonika made a crazy run from the right and sent a ball zipping across the goal to find Sangita Kumari, who had an empty goal to put the ball into. India started out of the gates quickly, approaching the Chilean circle three times in the first two minutes. In the third minute.
Match 4: South Africa defeats Japan 2-1
The last time Japan and South Africa played, they played to a thrilling 3-3 draw in the group stage of the FIH Hockey Women’s World Cup earlier in the year. The Nations Cup rematch between the two teams had the potential to end in another tie when South Africa quickly tied the score after Japan took an early lead. However, a powerful shot by Mai Toriyama with 5 minutes remaining was the game-winner as Japan defeated a young South African team to win all three points.