Playing with palpable aggression throughout, Pakistan beat Malaysia 2-0 to regain the gold medal that it last won in 1990 in the men's hockey competition of the Asian Games on Thursday. Pakistan scored once in each half.
The outcome confirmed Pakistan's place in the next Olympic Games in London.
The pace and punch that the Pakistanis packed in their approach brought enormous pressure on the defenders who were wobbly at the first sign of alarm. Goal-keeper Kumar had to bear the brunt of the stress. Effectively, he brought on a few lovely saves to restrict the margin.
Malaysia's spirits sunk when Sohail Abbas smashed in a penalty corner to the roof of the net midway in the first half.
However, there were hints of counter attacks by Jalil and Hanafi that were effectively dealt with by the Pakistani defenders among whom Zeeshan Ashraff was prominent.
Pakistan enlarged the lead in the early minutes of the second half when the seasoned campaigner, Rehan Butt, slotted the goal from a cross by Shafiq Rasool.
Malaysia had three penalty corners in the second half but the handling of them was amateurish. Late in the match, Malaysia did press hard for a goal but Salman Akbar stood like a solid bastion.
India bags bronze
Tushar Khandekar covered himself with glory netting a peach of a goal to ensure India a spot on the podium. The team missed that at the last edition in Doha.
The 1-0 victory over the defending champion, South Korea was an extension of the earlier 3-2 verdict in the Azlan Shah tournament.
India had to play a tactical match against the seasoned Koreans and did that intelligently and imaginatively.
The Indians controlled the pace of the contest, positioned themselves and tackled with a touch of assurance. Once again the key man in the defence was Sardar Singh, helped by the hard working Mahadik, and supported in the midfield commendably by Halappa and Gurjaj Singh. Vikram Pillay lent adequate support to the defenders.
Goalkeeper Bharat Chettri deserves a pat for the two penalty corner shots that he saved from Nam Hyunwoo.
Tushar Khandekar was the cynosure. It is a pity that he could not score more than one solitary goal that mattered in the end. He had two attempts late in the match, each as resourceful as the other, but the goal-keeper, Lee Myungho, padded them with aplomb.
India had only two penalty corners in the match but neither of them was successful.
The all important goal came after a fruitless first half. It was a well worked out move from the right involving Shivender and Gurbaj Singh, and Tushar was at the right place to connect the cross that bewildered the rival goal-keeper. India did well to hang on to the lead showing excellent sense of ball possession and repulsed whatever moves that the Koreans conceived.
This is the first time since 1990 at Beijing that the Koreans are going home without a medal. India's last bronze was in 1986 at Seoul. Today's was the second bronze for India since the start of the hockey competition in Tokyo in 1958.
Chief coach Jose Brasa viewed the victory as no consolation. “I am not happy. We played the best hockey in the tournament and deserved the gold” he added. About his contract, Brasa said he had not heard anything from the ministry yet.
Meanwhile Harendra Singh who resigned after the defeat against Malaysia said he was requested to continue till the conclusion of the Asian Games. He was in the team bench this afternoon.
Final: Pakistan 2 (Sohail Abbas, Rehan Butt) beat Malaysia 0 HT 1-0.
For 3-4 places: India 1 (Tushar Khandekar) beat South Korea 0 HT 1-1; 5-6: China 2 ( Liu Yixian, Na Yubo) beat Japan 0 HT 1-0; 7-8: Oman 6 (Samir Al Shibli, Basim Rajab, HashimAl Shatri, Akram Bait Shamiah, Md. Bait Jindal, Hussain Al Hasani) beat Bangladesh 5( Chayan Rahman 2, Pushkor Khisa 2, Krishno Kumir) HT 2-3; 9-10: Hong Kong-China 2 (Arif Ali 2, including the golden goal) beat Singapore 1 (Enrico Marican) HT 1-0.
Final placings: 1. Pakistan, 2. Malaysia, 3. India, 4. South Korea, 5. China, 6. Japan, 7. Oman, 8. Bangladesh, 9. Hong Kong-China, 10. Singapore.
Keywords: Asian Games 2010