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Coach Schopman’s future uncertain after India failure to qualify for Olympics | Hockey

Indian women’s hockey team coach Janneke Schopman’s future was thrown into uncertainty after the side’s failure to qualify for the 2024 Paris Olympics in Ranchi on Friday.

India women's hockey team coach Jenneke Schopman (Somnath Sen)
India women’s hockey team coach Jenneke Schopman (Somnath Sen)

The Indian team’s Olympic qualification dream came crashing down with a 0-1 loss to Japan in the third-place match of FIH Qualifiers.

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Kana Urata’s sixth-minute penalty corner strike turned out to be the winner for Japan.

“I think we were mentally ready after yesterday’s loss against Germany. We didn’t start well defensively and that sometimes can happen. Again, as a team we fought back, we dominated the entire game after the opening goal,” Schopman said after the match.

“We needed to score goals but we didn’t. If I would know the answer why we didn’t, then I won’t be standing here, I would have given them the answer during the game,” she said.

The top three sides from this tournament qualified for the Olympics. By finishing third, Japan sealed their place and will join Germany and USA in Paris.

Asked about her future with the Indian team, Schopman said: That I don’t know.”

The Dutch coach’s contract was till Paris Olympics and it remains to be seen whether Hockey India extends her stint after the disappointing result.

Schopman was Sjoerd Marijne’s assistant at the Tokyo Olympics, where the Indian women finished a creditable fourth.

Schopman said contrary to the final result, India were by far the dominant side against Japan.

The Indians wasted chances galore, including nine penalty corners.

The coach praised the fighting spirit of her side.

“They were trying, they were fighting. We were dominant against Japan in the last three games we played against them. This time, we didn’t score and in the past games, we scored.

“Japan goalkeeper made two mistakes yesterday. Germany got 15 penalty corners but didn’t score. Their penalty corner defence is good. We didn’t execute perfectly.”

Schopman was also critical of a few umpiring decisions on Friday.

“The umpires were also giving a little bit mixed signals. We were pushed off the ball. They got penalty corners outside the circle and the same stuff happened with us in the third quarter, and we didn’t get it. The girls are trying, but it’s life,” she said.

She said the failure to qualify for the quadrennial extravaganza will hurt them for a long time.

“Now it’s so fresh after the game. This tournament has been a roller-coaster. This is our fifth match in seven days. But I think we showed up and tried. This is going to hurt for a long time.

“We have to watch the Olympics on the TV. We know we wanted to be there and, to be completely honest, we have the quality to be there. We should have been there, but we are not, so that hurts,” Schopman said.

India captain Savita said the failure to take their chances cost them a place in the Games.

“We got many, many chances and penalty corners, but we failed. We didn’t give up, we kept on trying. It really hurts. We now can’t compensate that,” a teary-eyed Savita said.

“I have nothing to say, I am short of words. We deserved to go to the Olympics but…Japan also deserved and they are going.

“In today’s hockey, you have to play every team. We lacked in some areas in the first half. If we played attacking hockey from the first minute, the result could have been different,” the veteran goalkeeper said.

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