Kakamigahara: The Indian women's hockey team qualified for the World Cup by winning the Asia Cup and captain Rani Rampal said it was important for the team to enter next year's mega event on merit.
"We are all extremely happy that we won the Asia Cup and have earned the qualification for next year's World Cup on merit," said Rani after India defeated China 5-4 via a shootout in the final.
The team broke a 13-year-old jinx when Rani scored the final goal and goalkeeper Savita foiled an attempt from the rivals to ensure a 5-4 win.
"We had a lot of young players in the team who showed great spirit in playing on such a big platform. The team gave a good fight to China and China too played equally well today and the match went into penalty shootout.
"It was a high level competition and we did not drop our level at any point in the game. Savita made a brilliant save in sudden death and I am happy I could convert that goal in sudden death."
She said the win has boosted the team's confidence ahead of the 2018 Commonwealth and Asian Games.
"We would like to especially thank Hockey India and SAI (Sports Authority of India) for their continued support and ensuring we get the best facilities. Hopefully we will carry this confidence and motivation into the Commonwealth Games and Asian Games."
India last played in the World Cup in 2010 as they failed to qualify for the 2014 edition.
Talking about the shootout, Rani revealed that preparing for tense situations helped the team pull through.
"We were not happy with our performance in Johannesburg at the World League Semi Final and right then the team had decided that we need to start winning in order to gain that confidence to perform well in top tournaments.
"We worked a lot on creating PCs and Gurjit worked hard on converting PCs during our camps. We were also well prepared for a shootout situation as we were anticipating the knockouts to end in shootouts. All the preparation helped us today."