India beat Malaysia to clinch Asia Cup

India on 22 October 2017 ended its 10-year wait for continental triumph when it defeated a gutsy Malaysia 2-1 in a close final to clinch its third Asia Cup hockey title here. India, ranked sixth in the world, was in for a nervous final 10 minutes but the defence did enough to hold on.

India, which won the Asia Cup in 2003 (Kuala Lumpur) and 2007 (Chennai), scored off field goals through Ramandeep Singh (third minute) and Lalit Upadhyay (29th). The ever-improving Malaysia, however, fought valiantly. Its efforts bore fruit in the 50th minute when Shahril Saabah pulled a goal back.

India, ranked sixth in the world, was in for a nervous final 10 minutes but the defence did enough to hold on. Pakistan won the bronze after edging out Korea 6-3 in the third-fourth place play-off match earlier in the day. It was a perfect start for India’s new chief coach Marijne Sjoerd as this was his maiden tournament in charge of the senior national side.

India came out all guns blazing and took the lead in the third minute through Ramandeep, who scored from a rebound after his initial deflection from a S.V. Sunil cross hit the post. Harmanpreet Singh was then denied by Razie Rahim as he made a goalline save to keep out the former’s flick from India’s first penalty corner. During the last 10 minutes, Malaysia mounted attack after attack in search of an equaliser. It had a golden opportunity to take the match into shoot-out after it got its third penalty corner, but the Indian defence stood tall.

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