The Indian women’s hockey team, having their tail-up after the knock-out win against Italy, will now hope to secure a place in the semi-finals of the ongoing Women’s Hockey World Cup 2018  when they take on Ireland in their last-eight encounter on Thursday.

The Indian eves registered their first win of the tournament by sailing past Italy 3-0 in a quarterfinal playoff and if they manage to beat Ireland, it would be their first World Cup semi-final spot in 44 years, second in total. The last time India had managed to enter the semi-finals of the prestigious quadrennial event was back in 1974 in Mandelieu, France where they eventually finished fourth.

However, it would not be an easy task for the Rani Rampal-led side against Ireland who defeated them earlier in the group stage and had a direct entry in the last eight. World No.16 Ireland have already scripted history of sorts by outclassing USA 3-1 and India 1-0 before slumping to a 0-1 defeat against hosts England. But they still managed to secure their maiden World Cup quarterfinal berth.

India, on the other hand, had to slog it out to make it to the quarterfinals, having drawn 1-1 against England and USA respectively and losing 0-1 to Ireland.

Skipper Rani feels India have gained confidence as the tournament has progressed and they would look to carry that forward going into the business end of the event.

“Early in the tournament, we didn’t do the one thing we needed to do score goals. But we have found the net now and we can definitely push on with our journey. We do not see that journey ending tomorrow,” she said.

In the last edition of the tournament in Rosario, Argentina India had finished a disappointing eighth.

(With PTI inputs)