India takes on Chile with spot in Olympic qualifiers on the line

India is unbeaten in the tournament so far and is just one win away from a place in the final round of the Olympic qualifiers.

Gurjit Kaur (second from left) slammed four goals in India's previous match against Fiji.   -  AFP

Title contender India will start as the overwhelming favourite against lower-ranked Chile in the semifinals of the women’s FIH Series Finals hockey tournament here Saturday.

The ninth-ranked India is unbeaten so far in the tournament, having registered comfortable wins over Uruguay (4-1), Poland (5-0) and Fiji (11-0).

And going by its world rankings and current form, India is expected to win hands down against world No. 16 Chile.

India is just one win away from securing its place in the final round of Tokyo Olympic qualifiers to be held later this year with two top spots up for grabs from here.

And achieving that goal shouldn’t be much of a problem for the Indians.

In all its pool matches, India had plenty of scoring opportunities but conversion rate is an area which is of a little concern for chief coach Sjoerd Marijne.

“We want to perform at the highest level possible and I believe there is still room for improvement,” Marijne had said.

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“Our conversion rate can definitely be higher and if that happens it will be easier for us to win matches.”

In the last match against world No. 44 Fiji, Gurjit Kaur slammed four goals, including a hat-trick and the drag-flicker would look to carry her form in the remaining games of the tournament.

Skipper Rani Rampal said India can’t afford to take any team lightly.

“We are looking forward to the semifinal. We just have to just focus on ourselves. We have to give our best,” Rani had said.

Chile, on the hand, finished second in its pool and had to go through the cross-overs to seal its place in the last-four round.

Chile defeated Mexico 7-0, hosts Japan 3-1 before being stunned by world no. 25 Russia 2-5.

But in the cross-overs, Chile edged past Uruguay 5-2 to set up a last-four encounter against India.

In the other semifinal, Russia will take on world no. 14 Japan.

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