New Delhi: Eyes of every Indian and Pakistani citizen were set on the Asian Champions Trophy final as soon as they found out that the two arch-rivals are going to face each other in the deciding encounter amid the bitter socio-political atmosphere between the two countries.
Favourites India prevailed 3-2 over arch-rivals Pakistan to reclaim the Asian Champions Trophy hockey in a thrilling summit showdown.
Goals from Rupinder Pal Singh (18th minute), Yousuf Affan (23rd) and Nikkin Thimmaiah (51st) helped India surmount the challenge from Pakistan, who rallied from two goals behind through strikes by Muhammad Aleem Bilal (26th) and Ali Shaan (38th) in the title clash of the fourth edition of tournament last night.
Here are the highlight of the tournament decider:-
The title win presented a perfect Diwali gift to the nation as the countrymen were celebrating the 'Festival of Light'.
This was the first time the teams were meeting in the final of a continental tournament since India dethroned Pakistan as the Asian Games champions in Incheon, South Korea in 2014.
India had won the inaugural edition of the Asian Champions Trophy by defeating Pakistan in the final in 2011.
Pakistan reversed the result in the title contest the next year and went on to retain it in 2013 by defeating Japan in the final.
World No. 6 India were the favourites going into the tournament, but were without several seasoned players who had been rested to recuperate from injuries.
"For the Indian players, there was no option other than winning the title here. We went in as the favorites and were the target of other teams, who faced no such pressure," said coach Roelant Oltmans.
"I'm really proud that the team showed its mental strength in the last quarter to clinch victory after we conceded two goals and allowed the opposition to come back into the contes", added Oltmans
"This trophy is the hockey team's Diwali gift to the nation," said Sardar, the former Indian captain and one of the players designated as team leaders.
(With PTI inputs)