The men’s Hero Asia Cup 2017 has been won by India, who claimed their third Asian Continental Championship thanks to victory over fellow finalists Malaysia at the Maulana Bhashani National Hockey Stadium in Dhaka, Bangladesh.
Goals from Ramandeep Singh and Lalit Upadhyay put tournament favourites India firmly in charge of the contest going into half time, but a strike from Sharil Saabah ten minutes from the end of the contest made the score 2-1 and boosted Malaysia’s hopes of securing a first ever Asia Cup success. Although Malaysia pressed hard for an equaliser, their efforts were thwarted by an outstanding defensive display as India held on to win a trophy that they last lifted in 2007, an event played on home soil in Chennai.
On winning the title, India captain Manpreet Singh said: “It is a 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.”
India Head Coach Sjoerd Marijne admitted feeling nervous in the latter stages of the match before his team emerged victorious. “I was a bit worried when the score was 2-1, strange goals can happen in last four or five minutes”, said Dutchman Marijne, who enjoys title success in his first major competition since taking up the position of Head Coach in last month. “I am really happy how they [his players] played, they changed the way we defend in the end and that helped us clinch the final.”
Despite the disappointment of defeat in the final, the silver medal represents Malaysia’s finest achievement on the Asia Cup stage. “India is a tough opponent ranked much higher than us”, said Malaysia Head Coach Stephen van Huizen, reflecting on an extremely positive week for his team. “This was our first ever Asia Cup final and I am really happy with the way the boys performed. It was a close contest and I am happy how they played.”
Earlier in the day, Pakistan claimed the bronze medal with a 6-3 victory over Korea. Both teams came into the contest on the back of disappointing results on Saturday (21 October), with Pakistan being denied a place in the final when they were defeated 4-0 by India before Korea’s draw with Malaysia ended both the final hopes and also their dream of qualifying for the Odisha Hockey Men’s World Cup Bhubaneswar 2017.
The Green Shirts of Pakistan produced one of their best performances of the competition to claim their place on the podium, with Ajaz Ahmad scoring a hat trick to help his team to their second successive Asia Cup bronze medal.
To catch up on of all the action from the men's Hero Asia Cup 2017, please visit the competition event webpage or follow the Asia Hockey social media channels on the links below.
Men's Hero Asia Cup 2017 - Final standings