Dhaka (Bangladesh), 22 October, 2017: Indian Men’s Hockey Team were crowned Hero Asia Cup 2017 Champions after they beat Malaysia 2-1 in the final of the tournament here today at the Maulana Bhashani National Hockey Stadium. Goals from Ramandeep Singh (3′) and Lalit Upadhyay (29′) secured the title for India as Malaysia failed to make an impact on the game in the early stages but came back with a solitary goal through Shahril Saabah (50′).
This is the third time that India have won the Asia Cup title and after a gap of 10 years. The team started the match aggressively, making clear that their intention was to win the title against the second highest ranked team in Asia. It was in the 3rd minute that the Indians found a gap in the Malaysian defence when SV Sunil played a pass from the right flank to find Ramandeep Singh inside the circle, who hit the target on his second attempt to give India the all-important lead in the Final.
India continued to dominate the possession in the first quarter as Malaysia failed to produce any good opportunities. The second quarter also saw India produce some outstanding attacking play as they looked to extend their lead. However, Malaysia held on and created some chances of their own as the Indian defence stood tall to deny Malaysia of any real opportunities to score. At the stroke of half-time, it was India was threatened again through the left flank as Akashdeep Singh found Sumit in an advance position with a long pass and the latter then found Lalit Upadhyay inside the circle, who then calmly tapped in the ball in the back of the net to make it 2-0 in India’s favour.
The third quarter was a balanced one where Malaysia started to open up spaces in the Indian defence but all their efforts were well kept out.
India on the other hand, had opportunities of their own in the latter part of the third quarter but could not produce a third goal to seal the deal. Malaysia took advantage of the same as they came back hard in the fourth quarter scoring a field goal in the 50th minute via Shahril Saabah as the Indian defence failed to stop the Malaysian attackers.
Press conference comments
Malaysia kept up the pressure on the Indian defence in the final 10 minutes of the match, but India absorbed the attacking forays made. The Indian team showed some resolute defending in the last five minutes to keep their 2-1 lead intact. In the end, the defensive skills displayed by India were enough for them to clinch the title after a gap of 10 years.
On winning the title, Manpreet Singh captain said, “Great honour to captain this team. Hockey is a team game and we are a family and this victory was possible because of the team work we put in. We are enjoying this victory.”
Meanwhile Coach Sjoerd Marijne said, “I was a bit worried when the score was 2-1, strange goals can happen in last 4-5 mins. But I am really happy how they played, they changed the way we defend in the end and that helped us clinch the final.”
Stephen van Huizen, Coach Malaysian team said, “India is a tough opponent ranked much higher than us. This was our first ever Asia Cup final and I am really happy with the way the boys performed on two back-to-back days. Yesterday the draw with a tough Korean team and today a good fight especially in the final quarter. It was a close contest and I am happy how they played.”
Goal of the Match:
Presented by: Mr Syed Waseque Mohammad Ali (Managing Director of First Security Islami Bank Limited)
Winner: Lalit Upadhyay of India
Hero Man of the Match:
Presented by: Chief of Air Staff of Bangladesh Air Force Air Chief Marshal Abu Esrar (also President, BHF)
Winner: Akashdeep Singh of India