India Crowned Hockey Champs

India defeated Malaysia in the Asia Cup final, with a 2-1 full-time score. This is the third Asia Cup title for India, tying them with Pakistan as the second most successful team in this tournament.

India scored their first off-field goal through Ramandeep Singh in the 3rd minute and the second goal through Lalit Upadhyay in the 29th minute. Malaysia fought back with a goal by scoring in the 50th minute through Shahril Saabah.

Ramandeep Singh scored his goal from a rebound after his shot deflected off the post from a cross by S.V Sunil. Lalit scored another goal for India by deflecting Sumit’s reverse hit cross.

India finished the tournament unbeaten, with the 1-1 draw against Korea being the only match they didn’t win. This was the maiden tournament for India’s new coach Marijne Sjoerd. Marijne said “I am really happy for the team. I am really happy for the people in India. This makes them happy. Yes, this is the best thing that can happen for a new coach in the first tournament. But, this is not about me; it is about the team. Now, the strength will be tested in the Hockey World League finals.

“We also have a high-ranked team there. This was the tournament we had to win. I love pressure and the pressure we will have in the World League finals. So, we will see what actually our strength is.” Despite losing the final, this was Malaysia’s best result in this Asia Cup. The last time they came close to the final was in 2007 when they won bronze.
This time, Pakistan won bronze after beating Korea 6-3 in the play-off match between the two sides.

Ajaz Ahmed scored a hattrick, and a goal each from Rashid Mehmood, Muhammad Yaqoob, and Abu Mahmood to give Pakistan the bronze medal in this tournament.
As well as the Asia Cup, India are the current holders of the Asian Games and the Asian Champions Trophy. “I feel extremely lucky to play for so long and it feels really special. I do not have words to express my happiness.

“I have waited ten years to hold this trophy again. Both titles are special — 2007 because it was my debut as a young player and now, in 2017, as a senior player with the responsibility to guide the youngsters,” S.V. Sunil said after the final.

Sardar Singh said “It was a major tournament. The coach joined us 10 days prior to the tournament. They guided us about little things and the players had adopted them quickly. We have followed the strategies made by the coaches against each team. I think the credit for the victory goes to the staff, coaches and my team-mates.”

It was a nerve-wracking last 10 minutes for India as Malaysia went on the attack, looking to equalise. One more goal from Malaysia could have led to a penalty shoot-out.
Malaysia tried one last desperate move by withdrawing their goalkeeper Subramaniam for an extra player, but India held on to win their first Asia Cup in ten years.

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