Buenos Aires, Jan 27: Indian women's hockey team lost 2-3 to world number two Argentina in their latest encounter. India set-up an early lead with Sharmila's equaliser in the 34th minute and Gurjit Kaur scoring off a brilliantly executed penalty corner in the 40th minute to lead 2-1, but the experienced Argentinian side fought back in the final quarter, scoring in the 50th and 57th minutes through Augustina Gorzelany and Granatto Maria respectively.
"We were close to a win but against an opponent like Argentina, you have to stay concentrated till the final hooter. The biggest take away from this match is to keep up the consistency in all four quarters," said chief coach Sjoerd Marijne after the match.
Though Argentina put India on the backfoot early in the match, earning a penalty corner in the sixth minute, India goalkeeper Savita made a splendid save to ward off early danger. Argentina continued to push for opportunities all through the second quarter too, creating penalty corners in the 21st and 23rd minutes but India's penalty corner defence held the fort. It was Micaela Retegui who fetched the 1-0 lead for the home team in the 25th minute with a swiftly converted goal.
After the ten-minute half time break, India made a strong comeback into the game, playing disciplined structure, closing the gaps in the 25yards mark, not allowing Argentina to make easy forays into their circle.
The forwardline, in the meantime, hunted for goals and succeeded in the 34th minute when Navjot Kaur set up young forward Sharmila to make the strike. Though Argentina earned a penalty corner in the 38th minute, India did well to hold the home team at 1-1.
In the 40th minute, India's lone drag-flicker Gurjit setup a crucial 2-1 lead with a powerfully struck goal. In the following minutes, both India and Argentina traded a penalty corner each, but none managed to convert. It was eventually a penalty stroke awarded to Argentina in the 50th minute that changed the course of the match.
"After we scored 2-1 lead, we were in a few situations where we could have stayed calmer and try to increase the goal-difference by scoring more. Against a team like Argentina, you have to lead by more than a goal to secure a win else they will catch-up. These are valuable lessons for us, and this is what we would like to improve in the next game," said Marijne.
India will next play Argentina on Friday.