Monday, September 29, 2003, Chandigarh, India

National Capital Region--Delhi


M A I N   N E W S

India beat Pak, lift Asia Cup

Indian players celebrate after winning the Asia Cup hockey tournament in Kuala Lumpur on Sunday.
— Reuters photo

Kuala Lumpur, September 28
Ignace Tirkey played the game of his life as India thrashed bitter rivals Pakistan 4-2 in a nerve-wracking final to win their first ever Asia Cup title and a berth in the 2006 World Cup here today.

With the teams locked 2-2 and the match appearing to be headed towards extra time with just one minute 27 seconds left on the clock, Ignace did a Houdini act to score off a solo dribble on receiving a pass from Baljeet Singh Saini.

The drama was not over as yet as India capped their superb show with another goal by Prabhjot Singh 14 seconds from the hooter.

The victory helped India settle more than one score as they were defeated by Pakistan by the same margin in the league match earlier in the tournament. India also avenged their defeat in the bronze medal play-off in the Champions Trophy last month as well as their 2-0 thrashing in the 1989 edition at New Delhi, the last time the arch-rivals met in the final of Asia Cup.

The victory, which put paid to Pakistan’s aspirations to win their fourth Asia Cup title after they won it last in New Delhi, was especially sweet for India as they had finished bridesmaid on four occasions earlier, being forced to be content with the runners-up title.

Prabhjot Singh celebrates after scoring the fourth goal against Pakistan
Prabhjot Singh celebrates after scoring the fourth goal against Pakistan, in Kuala Lumpur on Sunday. — AFP photo

Playing their first major tournament without their drag flick ace Jugraj Singh, India opened their account in the sixth minute when Kanwalpreet Singh converted their first penalty corner. For Pakistan, penalty corner expert Sohail Abbas scored both the goals in the first half in the 7th and 12th minute.

Undoubtedly, it was India who dominated their continental rivals for the greater part of the game, dishing out an excellent fare and outplaying Pakistan constantly.

Ignace, declared the man-of-the- match, played like a man possessed, dribbling with skill and accuracy. His set pieces and tackling left rival defenders in a daze and they struggled to keep up with his pace, making mistakes in collecting the ball and indulging in wayward passes.

There was a collective gasp from the spectators as Ignace scored India’s third goal to seal the fate of Pakistan as there was less than two minutes left on the clock.

There was some consolation for Pakistan though as they earned the ‘Fairplay Award’ and their highest goal scorer ever Sohail being named the ‘Player of the Tournament’.

India’s upcoming forward Sandeep Michael was adjudged the ‘Most Promising Player’ of the tournament, which saw India lose just one of their matches in what proved to be a superb outing for the Asian Games silver medallists.

There was never a dull moment in the first half as the teams went all out right from the outset with India earning their first penalty corner in the fifth minute itself. A bad clearance by the Pakistani defender saw India get another corner immediately after and Kanwalpreet Singh made no mistake with his drag flick to give India a 1-0 lead.

But even before the Indian players finished celebrating their breakthrough, Pakistan equalised in the very next minute with ace defender Sohail Abbas unleashing his deadly drag flick to convert Pakistan’s first penalty corner (1-1).

Within five minutes of the goal, Pakistan surged ahead to a 2-1 lead with Sohail once again making no mistake with his trademark flick in the 12th minute.

The Indians regrouped and played some intelligent hockey to dispossess the ball from their rivals. Their tackles were impressive and their efforts bore fruit when forward Gagan Ajit Singh deflected the ball in to even scores at 2-2.

India’s forward line appeared to have learnt from the mistakes committed in the previous matches and though Dhanraj Pillay displayed an ordinary game, they did not let go of chances that came their way.

At times, Dhanraj and Bimal Lakra combined with Prabhjot Singh to build some excellent moves, dodging the rival defenders with great back and square passes.

But a good opportunity to score was lost when Gagan fumbled after a very good pass from Lakra, playing an outstanding game, and shot flippantly to let the ball go over the goalpost.

The tension and thrill that goes with every India-Pakistan match was very much on show with green cards being shown to Mohammad Saqlain and Ignace. — PTI



Rs 1 lakh cash award announced
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 28
India's historic victory in the Asia Cup at Kuala Lumpur sent a wave of joy in Punjab today. Congratulatory messages from various quarters started flowing in immediately after India’s thrilling win over Pakistan. Mr Jagjit Puri, secretary of the Jalandhar-based Surjit Hockey Society, immediately announced a cash award of Rs 1 lakh for the team. “The award will be presented to the team at Jalandhar on November 13,” Mr Puri said while talking to The Tribune on the telephone this evening.

Congratulatory messages also came from the Chandigarh Hockey Association, the Rock Rovers Hockey Club, and international umpires assembled in Chandigarh for the ongoing Gurmit Memorial Hockey Tournament. “The victory is a turning point in Indian hockey,” said international umpire Rajinder Gandhi.



Jugraj elated at victory
M.S. Unnikrishnan

New Delhi, September 28
Indian hockey star Jugraj Singh, who was shifted to the speciality Batra Hospital in New Delh today, was elated at India’s maiden title triumph in the Asia Cup Hockey Tournament in Kuala Lumpur today.

"We played extremely well. We did not miss any chance. The Indian team have fulfilled their promise made to me before leaving for the Asia Cup that they would win the cup for me", Jugraj Singh told The Tribune from his hospital bed at the Batra Hospital.

Jugraj, India’s penalty corner specialist, who watched the whole match from his bed, said the Indian team outplayed Pakistan for this deserving victory.

His father said Jugraj became emotional as he keenly watched the match and it became clear that India were heading for an historic title triumph. Jugraj said he spoke to Dhanraj Pillay, Gagan Ajit Singh, Tirkey and coach Rajinder Singh and congratulated them for winning the cup, defeating Pakistan.

"We played the way we are capable of to give it back to Pakistan in a befitting manner, and seize the initiate", Jugraj observed.

Jugraj was brought to Delhi in a helicopter provided by Indian hockey team sponsors Sahara Group. Jugraj has been admitted at the Batra Hospital for "further assessment and treatment" before being sent to the United States for expert care. He is under the supervision of the hospital’s senior orthopaedics consultant Dr Laljee Kent.

A hospital spokesman said Jugraj’s "general condition is stable and he looked quite cheerful. He had sustained a lot of fractures in the accident he met with".

Elaborating on the medical condition of the penalty corner expert, the spokesman said "Jugraj has grossly comminuted fracture of the lower end of the right humerus involving the elbow joint and comminuted fracture of the right femur. All his fractures have been operatively fixed." He said Jugraj still had a small wound on the posterior aspect of right elbow joint. He added that Jugraj’s "condition of fracture will be assessed with fresh sets of X-rays and vigorous phsyiotherapy will be applied".

Indian Hockey Federation chief protocol officer Suresh Sharma said Jugraj would be sent to the US for specialist treatment at the earliest as the Medical Board of the United States Olympic Council had agreed to take care of the player.



South Korea finish third

Kuala Lumpur, September 28
Lee Jung Seon scored a hat-trick as Asian Games gold medallists and defending champions South Korea outplayed Japan 4-2 to finish third in the sixth men’s Asia Cup hockey tournament here today.

Japan, who finished fifth in the previous edition in 1999, did not go down without a fight though and were trifle unlucky to have missed easy scoring chances, especially the one when Ryuji Furusato's brave attempt, following a superb solo run, saw the ball miss the goal by a whisker.

The Koreans, fielding as many as seven youngsters in their side with a view to concentrate on the Olympics for which they have already qualified, led 2-1 at half time.

The evenly-matched first half saw Japan countering the attack of the South Koreans with speed and solid defence.

But it was South Korea who got the first breakthrough when You Hyo Sik scored a fine field goal off a rebound in the 16th minute. — PTI


Home | Punjab | Haryana | Jammu & Kashmir | Himachal Pradesh | Regional Briefs | Nation | Editorial |
Business | Sport | World | Mailbag | Chandigarh Tribune | Ludhiana Tribune
50 years of Independence | Tercentenary Celebrations |
123 Years of Trust | Calendar | Weather | Archive | Subscribe | Suggestion | E-mail |