-Defeats Pakistan 4-2 in the Penalty Shoot-Out
Incheon (Republic of Korea) 2 October 2014: With the Gold medal on the line, the Indian Men Hockey Team lived its dream of bringing home the Gold today at the 17th Asian Games 2014. With this win, India seals a berth in the 2016, Rio Olympic Games. Trailing 1-0 at the end of the 1st quarter, the Indian team looked determined to level the score and win the match against Pakistan. With the match ending at 1-1 in the regulation time and entering the Penalty Shoot Out, it was Sreejesh’s brilliant saves which helped India score 4 as against the 2 netted by Pakistan taking them to the much deserved win.
Speaking on the win, Dr. Narinder Batra, Secretary General, Hockey India said “It is a proud moment for the country and a big day for Indian hockey. I would like to congratulate the entire team, Director High Performance Roelant Oltmans, Chief Coach Terry Walsh and the entire support staff that made this happen. This Gold is a big motivation for us and we will now take the game to the next level. We will up our efforts and ensure that we win more such games in the future.”
With both teams looking at striking early, it was Pakistan who was successful in the 3rd minute of the game when they penetrated the defence of the Indians and Muhammad Rizwan scored for his team. While the Indians had the early setback, it did not deter them to get into action and attack. The entire first quarter the Indians created scoring opportunities but were unable to net the goal. At the end of the first quarter it was Pakistan who was leading the tally with 1-0.
Coming into the second quarter, the Indian boys were more determined to level the scores. It was finally in the 27th minute when Kothajit Khadangbam through a beautiful field goal, helped his team take the score to 1-1. This stunned the Pakistan team as they had successfully kept the Indians from scoring in almost the entire 2nd quarter.
With scores levelled at 1-1, both the teams were now looking at taking the lead in the 3rd quarter but it went goalless as both were unable to score from the opportunities that they got. With the 4th quarter being the deciding quarter for both the teams, they however were still unsuccessful in scoring.
With the match tied at 1-1 in the regulation time, it was the Penalty Shoot-Out which was the decider for the winner of the Gold. While Pakistan had a successful Penalty Shoot Out in their last match against the Malaysians, they were unable to keep their nerves and failed in front of the Wall – Sreejesh.
Akashdeep Singh taking the first scoring strike in the Penalty Shoot-Out had no problem in netting the ball, giving India the initial lead. Coming to take the first strike for Pakistan, Abdul Khan looked confident but was unable to pass through Sreejesh and score. This got Pakistan on the back foot, plus giving India the motivation to go for the kill. Taking the second strike, Rupinder scored effortlessly leaving the opponents stunned. Muhammad Waqas coming in to take the second strike for Pakistan found it difficult to take the ball past Sreejesh in the first two attempts and it was the 3rd attempt that he finally netted the ball, taking the score to 2-1.
With the third strike taken by Manpreet Singh, while he scored but the goal was not given, leaving the score at 2-1. Coming to take the 3rd strike for Pakistan, Muhammad Umar had a good opportunity to level the score for his team, but yet again it was Sreejesh who stood in the front of the opponent’s way and not allowing the ball to go past him. With both Birendra Lakra and Dharamvir Singh brilliantly scored through the next two strikes, helped India take the win and the Gold.
The Gold medallist Indian Men Hockey team will arrive at IGI Airport, New Delhi on 5 October 2014 at 0100hrs and flight number is OZ 767.