April 20, 2024

India fights back from 3-1 down to win Asian Champions Trophy

India's men hockey team won the Asian Champions final

India's men hockey team won the Asian Champions final on Saturday. Image: @TheHockeyIndia

In an electrifying showdown at Chennai’s Mayor Radhakrishnan Stadium on Saturday, the Indian men’s hockey squad achieved a triumphant turnaround, rallying from a two-goal deficit to vanquish Malaysia 4-3 in the decisive clash of the Asian Champions Trophy 2023.

This victory propelled India to the pinnacle of success in the tournament, surpassing the three-time champions Pakistan. The goal-scoring exploits for India were orchestrated by Jugraj Singh, Harmanpreet Singh, Gurjant Singh, and Akashdeep Singh, while Malaysia’s Abu Kamal Azrai, Razie Rahim, and Aminudin Muhamad found the net.

During the initial half, India commanded 56% of the ball possession and engineered nine penetrations into the circle. Despite their efforts, it was Malaysia who capitalized twice from four penalty corners, establishing a 3-1 lead by halftime. Nonetheless, India exhibited remarkable resilience during the subsequent half, snatching victory from the jaws of defeat and clinching the championship while preserving their undefeated record in the tournament.

In a decisive moment with a mere 30 seconds on the clock, Harmanpreet Singh orchestrated a pivotal play, delivering a precise pass to Karthi Selvam within the circle. Selvam then swiftly relayed the ball to Sukhjeet Singh, who deftly nudged it to Gurjant Singh, the ultimate scorer of the equalizing goal.

During the final quarter, Malaysia adopted an offensive strategy, seeking to seize the lead rather than adopting a deep defensive stance. However, India executed a brilliant reversal, with Akashdeep Singh sealing the deal with a winning goal in the 56th minute. A turning point occurred when Malaysia’s Hasan Azuan received a five-minute suspension, leaving their team with ten players in the final four minutes of the match. Capitalizing on this momentum, India made efforts to widen their lead, culminating in a final score of 4-3 in their favor.

Throughout the tournament, India dominated the league stage with four victories and a draw against reigning Asian Games champions, Japan. The semi-finals witnessed India’s resounding 5-0 victory over Japan. This biennial contest, the Asian Champions Trophy, gathers the cream of Asia’s hockey talent, and India had previously clinched the title in 2011 and 2016. The 2018 edition in Muscat, Oman saw India sharing the trophy with Pakistan due to rain-related disruptions.

The next challenge beckoning the Indian hockey team is the Asian Games 2023, slated to commence on September 23 in Hangzhou, China.

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