Asian Youth Olympic Games Qualifiers 2018: Indian men win gold, women clinch silver
The Indian junior men won the title while the women finished as runners-up at the Asian Youth Olympic Games Qualifiers 2018 in Bangkok.
Both teams were tested for the very first time after having had a dominant run thus far in the tournament. While the men overcame Malaysia via a penalty-shootout after both teams were tied 4-4 at the end of regulation time, the women went down 1-4 to China.
Indian men beat Malaysia to win title
In a match which was played at a blistering pace with end-to-end hockey, the Indian colts finally prevailed. The Hockey 5's format accords teams the freedom to play a fast and free-flowing game and both teams did not disappoint on these fronts with some scintillating hockey on display.
Malaysia went ahead in the 11th minute, but Rahul Kumar Rajbhar equalized for India a minute later. The Indian skipper, Vivek Sagar Prasad has had a great run and did not disappoint in the final giving India the lead in the 14th minute. Malaysia restored parity when Moharram was aptly positioned to pick up a well-directed pass and his cracking shot beat Indian goalie Prashant Kumar Chauhan.
India took the lead yet again when Vivek made a superb run and scored in the 18th minute. Rahul Kumar Rajbhar's powerful hit beat the Malaysian goalie in the 20th minute and India went 4-2 up. Malaysia came back strongly to score in the 26th minute and equalized in the final minute of the final quarter.
Indian goalkeeper Prashan Kumar Chauhan showed his class in the tie-breaker as he induced the Malaysians to shoot wide of the target by charging down to reduce the angle. The Indians were unstoppable in the shoot-out and converted all their penalties. Jude Felix's side thus ended up as deserving winners and reinforced the fact that the Indian juniors reign supreme in Asia.
Rahul Kumar Rajbhar was awarded the player of the match for the final while Vivek Sagar Prasad went home with the joint top scorer award and also the best player of the tournament award.
Indian women go down to China
The Indian women had to be satisfied with a silver medal when they went down to China. The Chinese girls took the lead early when Chencheng Liu scored in the 3rd minute. Two goals resulted a minute later with both Liu and Zou finding the target. Ning Ma added to the tally and China had an imposing 4-0 lead as early as the 8th minute.
Chetna scored India's only goal in the 16th minute. Although the Indian women lost the final, they have earned the right to play in the Buenos Aires Youth Olympics and it is a moment of great pride for coach Baljit Singh Saini and the team.
Deepika received the most promising U-16 player award.