The Pakistan junior hockey team, nicknamed the Colts, were unable to claim their fourth Junior Asia Cup as they were comprehensively beaten 6-2 in the final by arch-rivals India at the Wisma Belia Hockey Stadium in Kuantan, Malaysia.
Both sides had reached the final in fine form, winning all of their games on their way to the showdown, but it was the Indians who asserted their superiority on Sunday.
It took just 10 minutes for them to open the scoring as Harmanpeet Singh swept home from a penalty corner, before repeating the trick just five minutes later to double India’s lead.
Pakistan’s Muhammad Yaqoob scored his first goal of the tournament in the 28th minute to get Pakistan back in the game.
But Harmanpeet had other ideas and scored yet again from a penalty corner on the half-hour mark to complete his hat-trick and ensure that India went in at half-time with a two-goal cushion.
India then all but wrapped up the game in the 44th minute when Amaan Qureshi scored from open play to make it 4-1.
Manpreet Junior then made it 5-1 in the 50th minute before yet another penalty corner from Harmanpeet made it an emphatic 6-1 in favour of the Indians.
Pakistan’s top-scorer Muhammad Dilber then got his name on the scoresheet with his eight strike of the tournament to grab a consolation for the boys in green two minutes from time as the match finished 6-2.
Pakistan coach Tahir Zaman said the result was not unexpected as India are more experienced. “I was expecting us to lose as India are a strong side,” he told The Express Tribune. “Although we didn’t lose a game before this, the Indians have played more international tournaments and that helped them here.”
Despite the margin of defeat, Zaman was not disheartened and instead praised his opponents. “The game is all about pressure; whoever is able to handle it better will win the match, and the Indians did that really well,” he said. “But our boys scored two goals against them, which shows their potential. Our players are young and inexperienced, and some of them are touring for the first time, so even reaching the final was a big achievement.”
Zaman also reserved special praise for vice-captain Dilber. “He finished the tournament with eight goals to his name, which is the second highest behind Harmanpeet’s 12,” he said. “Dilber showcased his ability and experience.”
The coach was also happy with his side’s goal difference, with the Colts scoring 29 while only conceding 18; six of which came in the final.
He was also quick to point that Pakistan’s main aim was to qualify for the Junior World Cup next year, which the silver-medallists achieved. “Our main purpose was to qualify for next year’s Junior World Cup and we have done that,” he said. “This team has proven itself and we now have a year to improve ourselves further.”
Meanwhile, Dilber was quick to deflect the limelight off himself, saying the team performed as a unit. “I enjoyed the entire tournament and it is all because of the team,” he said. “Each and every player was giving his all to help Pakistan win, and that helped us reach the final.”
The winning skipper, Harjeet Singh, on the other hand was delighted with his side’s win. “We are extremely happy with the hockey we played,” he said. “We are now looking forward to the World Cup next year.”
Published in The Express Tribune, November 23rd, 2015.
Like Sports on Facebook, follow @ETribuneSports on Twitter to stay informed and join in the conversation.
Comments are moderated and generally will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive.
For more information, please see our Comments FAQ