The Indian Hockey team triumphed over the Malaysian team in the Hero Asia Cup Final. The Men in blue had had a dream run during the entire tournament. Apart from a draw against South Korea, India had won every single match up till the final. Malaysia, too won all their matches in the group stage and lost just once in the Super 4s.
Hero Asia Cup Final
India meant business right from the whistle. In the 2nd minute itself, Ramandeep Singh fired in a goal. First blood to India. The funny thing was, the ball initially hit the post, but Ramandeep caught it on the rebound. India played a tight and controlled game by keeping possession. But their fine form was too good to last as the first few mistakes began to trickle in. Chinglensana attempted a shot but it barely missed. Soon Malaysia began to recover from their sluggish start and tried to counterattack. India won a number of penalty corners while Malaysia hunted for some. The only PC they won in the quarter went wide.
India soon began to play with a strategy in mind, they kept their structure and didn’t advance unless they were sure of the ball. So the players began to retreat more often. Soon Malaysia began to find their feet again and once more, India’s mistakes began to surface. Although India was leading, they knew that they weren’t completely out of the woods. Akashdeep Singh attacked but the Malaysian keeper defended well. With 3 minutes on the clock, India’s defence was rock solid but their offense was a bit flimsy. Then, an Akashdeep shot found Sumit who laid it out for Lalit Upadhyay. Upadhyay needed no second invitation. He comfortably slotted it into the net. The quarter ended with India leading 2-0.
Ramandeep took a tumble after a shot from Surender, fortunately there was no harm done. Ramandeep and Sumit linked up well and went on the attack. An opportunity arose for Upadhyay but he missed the undefended goal. A collective groan resounded from the stands as India missed even more shots. The 3rd quarter ended with numerous missed opportunities for India as several forwards missed open goals.
This time, Malaysia was on the attack, and they missed their first opportunity. India saved a PC and countered. Malaysia pulled one back as they caught the Indian defence napping. Shahril Saabah was the man who scored for Malaysia. The score now read 2-1 in India’s favour, but was it enough to jolt India? Malaysia played with renewed vigour. The two teams were circulating the ball among themselves, until Varun Kumar triggered the costly errors. He gave away a PC to Malaysia but India managed to cover up. Malaysia them attempted the daring, they pulled off their goalkeeper and were playing with 11 players on the field. India went into overdrive on the defensive front as the seconds ticked away. But soon, the ordeal was over and India held on for a victory in the Hero Asia Cup Final and a 3rd Asia Cup.