In a thrilling finale held in Salalah (Oman), India's women's hockey team secured a resounding 7-2 victory against Thailand, emerging as the champions of the inaugural Women's Asian Hockey 5s World Cup Qualifier. With this win, India has also earned their spot in the highly anticipated World Cup set to take place in Muscat from January 24-27 next year.
India's Mariana Kujur proved to be a formidable force, scoring two goals in the 2nd and 8th minutes, while Jyoti added to the tally with goals in the 10th and 27th minutes. Monika Dipi Toppo, skipper Navjot Kaur, and Mahima Choudhary also contributed to the victory with their impressive goals in the 7th, 23rd, and 29th minutes, respectively. Thailand's Kunjira Inpa and Sanpoung Kornkanok managed to find the back of the net, but it was not enough to challenge India's dominance.
The match began with Kujur swiftly giving India the lead with a phenomenal field goal. However, Thailand responded with two quick goals from Ipna and Kornkanok, putting India on the defensive. Undeterred, India's Toppo swiftly equalized with a brilliant field goal, before Kujur secured her second goal to put India ahead. Jyoti further extended India's lead to 4-2 just before halftime.
After the break, India continued to exhibit their pace and precision, constantly testing Thailand's defense. Their perseverance paid off as captain Navjot confidently added a fifth goal to the scoreboard. With just three minutes remaining, Jyoti struck again, making it 6-2, and Choudhary sealed the victory with a final goal, resulting in a comprehensive 7-2 triumph for India.
Earlier in the day, India showcased their dominance by defeating Malaysia 9-5 in a thrilling encounter. Navjot shone with a remarkable hat-trick, scoring in the 7th, 10th, and 17th minutes, while Kujur and Jyoti contributed with two goals each. Toppo and Choudhary also showcased their skills with a goal each. Malaysia's Zati Muhamad, Dian Nazeri, and Aziz Zafirah managed to find the net but were unable to match India's exceptional performance.
In recognition of their outstanding achievement, Hockey India has announced a reward of Rs 2 lakh for each player on the team, along with Rs 1 lakh for the support staff.