India today ended their 10-year wait for continental triumph when they beat a gutsy Malaysia 2-1 in a nail-biting final to clinch their third Asia Cup hockey title, here today.
India, who won the Asia Cup last time in 2007 in Chennai, scored from field efforts through Ramandeep Singh (3rd minute) and Lalit Upadhyay (29th) to dash Malaysian hopes. Malaysia were in summit clash for the first time since tournament’s inception.
The ever-improving Malaysians, however, fought valiantly and didn’t give up for a single minute. Their efforts bore fruit in the 50th minute when Shahril Saabah pulled one goal back.
For India’ new chief coach Marijne Sjoerd, it was perfect start to his stint as the Asia Cup was his maiden tournament in charge of the senior national side.
The top-ranked Indians finished unbeaten in the tournament, having won all their matches except for the 1-1 draw against Korea in the Super 4 stage.Today’s win was India’s second victory over Malaysia in the tournament, having beaten them 6-2 in the Super-4 stage.
Indians took the lead as early as the third minute through Ramandeep, who scored from a rebound after his initial deflection from SV Sunil’s cross hit the post.
Chinglensana Singh’s reverse hit from close range then went wide as India wasted a golden chance. After the change of ends, Lalit and Ramandeep came tantalisingly close to extending India’s tally of goals but their shots from inside the D were off target. Down to two goals Malaysians tried best to equalize but failed.