Wednesday, 20 October 2021

Asian Champions Trophy: Pakistan, India declared joint winners

MUSCAT: Pakistan and India were declared joint winners of the 2018 Asian Champions Trophy Hockey Tournament after rain washed out the final in Muscat, Oman on Sunday.

After non-stop rain during the final, the managers of the finalist teams met with the tournament director, who informed them about the international laws about the trophy and gold medals. India won the toss and grabbed the trophy and silver medals while Pakistan players were awarded gold medals.

The men in green qualified for the fifth Asia Cup final after beating Malaysia in the penalty shootout. India edged out Japan 3-2 in their semifinal to set up the big clash against Pakistan. This was the second contest of the tournament between Pakistan and India. In their earlier meeting, India beat Pakistan 3-1.

The last time, the sub-continent rivals met in the final of the tournament, was in 2016 when India defeated Pakistan 3-2 to lift the title for the second time. Both Pakistan and India have won the trophy twice with Pakistan winning the title in 2012 and 2013 while India was named champions in 2011 and 2016.

The green shirts won three of its five matches, losing one and drawing two. They defeated South Korea 3-1 in the opening match of the tournament while they lost to arch-rivals India 3-1. This was followed by an 8-1 thrashing of hosts Oman, 1-1 draw against Japan and a 1-0 win against Malaysia to book a place in the semi-final.

In the third-fourth playoff earlier, Malaysia, under former Pakistan as well as India hockey coach Roelant Oltmans, defeated Japan after a shootout to clinch the bronze medal. It was a sweet revenge for Malaysia as they overcame Japan 3-2 in a penalty shootout, as they were locked in a 2-2 at the final hooter but the Malaysians got the better of Japanese in the penalties to secure third place finish in the tournament.

Billed as a repeat of the Asian Games hockey final held in Jakarta, both teams looking to stamp their supremacy on the game began on a subdued note ending the first quarter with moving the scoreboard. Japan, then opened up the game using their flanks to make inroads into the opposition, it was in the 18th minute when Kenji Kitazato received a pass to score from a field goal and give Japan a 1-0 lead, two minutes later Malaysia was awarded a penalty corner after the ball hit the foot of a Japanese defender, Faisal Saari who has top scored for Malaysia made it 1-1 to go into the half time break.

Japan looking to up the tempo by resorting to aggressive play received two green cards with Kazuki Yoneda being sent off in the 27th minute of the second quarter while Seren Tanaka got one in the first two minutes of the third quarter with both teams still looking to break the deadlock in the first period of the second half.

With the pushback of the fourth quarter Malaysia immediately stormed the Japanese citadel and it was Faisal Saari again who doubled his tally by giving his team a 2-1 lead, but Japan not to be out done broke back through Hirotaka Wakuri to level the score at 2-2 in the 48th minute to take the match into a penalty shootout at the final buzzer.

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