Incheon: Akashdeep Singh scored a fabulous field goal against hosts South Korea to guide Indian men's hockey team into the finals of the Asian Games after a gap of 12 years, setting up a summit showdown with arch-rivals Pakistan.
Shattered after the close 1-2 loss against arch-rivals Pakistan, Indian men's hockey team will have to regroup themselves quickly and eye atleast a draw in their last crucial Pool B fixture against China here on Saturday, to qualify for the semifinals of the 17th Asian Games.
Their campaign of to a rousing start, Indian men's hockey team will be eyeing yet another morale-boosting big win over minnows Oman on Tuesday ahead of their crucial pool match against archrivals Pakistan at the 17th Asian Games here.
Eyes firmly set on the gold medal, which has eluded them for the past 16 years, the Indian men's hockey team would look to open its Asian Games campaign with a big win against minnows Sri Lanka in a Pool B match at the Seonhak Hockey Stadium, here on Sunday.
India will start their elusive quest for the Asian Games men's hockey gold in a new format of the game when they take on minnows Sri Lanka in their Pool B opener here on Sunday while the women's team begin their campaign the next day.
Hockey India Secretary General Narinder Batra on Wednesday said that HI will not send any of its officials as a delegate at the expense of Indian Olympic Association at the Asian Games even while he slammed the sports ministry for "interference" on the issue.
With new rules set to be introduced in the upcoming Asian Games, India's vice captain P R Sreejesh feels the change in format will work in their favour in Incheon as they have hands-on experience of playing a game of four quarters, courtesy Hockey India League.
The Indian hockey team has been drawn in a tough group alongside Olympic champion Germany and World Cup runner-up the Netherlands among others for the Champions Trophy to be held in Bhubaneswar from December 6-14.
At a time when the Hero Hockey India League (HIL) is in troubled waters with the reported withdrawl of two teams, Hockey India (HI) on Friday roped in Deccan Water Treatment Pvt Ltd as the owners of the Pune franchise, the new addition to the city-based tournament.
Looking to break the 16-year-old Asian Games 'gold' jinx, Indian men's hockey team coach Terry Walsh said that the current lot of players have the "self belief" to come up trumps in the upcoming quadrennial event in Incheon, South Korea.
Hockey India on Wednesday described the government's decision to exclude its four key support staff, including a coach, from the Asian Games-bound contingent as "distraction", leaving its High Performance Director Roelant Oltmans in a state of "shock".
Pakistan's star striker Shakeel Abbasi feels the Indian hockey team will enjoy an upper hand in the upcoming Incheon Asian Games due to its continous international exposure which is lacking in their case.
With the Indian men's team slated to leave on Thursday for the Asian Games, Hockey India secretary general Narendra Batra on Tuesday blamed the Sports Ministry for delay in getting air tickets for Incheon and said the body should not be criticised if the team fails to shine.