In a dramatic Asian Champions Trophy final on Saturday, India made a thrilling comeback against Malaysia to clinch their fourth ACT title, in Chennai. The boys in blue were trailing 1-3 at the start of the third quarter before they made an impressive recovery to win the match 4-3.
Speaking on this sensational Asian Champions Trophy final, Indian team coach Craig Fulton said:
“To be honest, we had a really, really good game against Japan in the semifinal, that was a high-quality match for us, and to back that up, it was really hard to play that quality again. So, I suppose Malaysia raised the game. They got control of that first half. We didn’t do badly, but we just weren’t a 100 percent committed to what we were trying to do.
Explaining the switch that came in India’s game in the third quarter, Fulton noted:
“Half-time came at a good period. We regrouped, and I think it really showed in the third and fourth quarter. I knew if we could get one goal, we could get two, and that would bring us into that draw phase.
"If we could get to two, we could win the game, and that's what showed. It was a really key moment from goal two to three, and that took a lot of wind out of Malaysia’s sail in a sense. Then it was just a matter of time to try and get the win”
Skipper Harmanpreet Singh also had similar thoughts on the way India managed to regroup towards the end of the Asian Champions Trophy final.
“The finalsis always a tough match. Nobody expects it to be easy, and Malaysia played very well in the first two quarters. So we made that correct decision, that whether we’re leading or behind by a couple of goals, our game shouldn't change. We had to stay mentally strong, and so I think the whole team showed great teamwork”
India’s team spirit was the winner throughout the Asian Champions Trophy
Such an eventful match, especially when it is the final of the Asian Champions Trophy, is sure to require a lot from the players, both mentally and physically. When asked how he felt the juniors of the team dealt with the pressure, Craig Fulton said:
“I think what you’ll find is that these guys trust each other, and trust the fact that they can do the job. They feel confident that they can step up, and I thought the guys were really class. We pressed really really well. Everyone had to do their role, and the younger players stood up, and so did the older players.
"The character of the group is growing, and this is a really important step because you need to know that you can come from behind. It's easy to play when you have two or three in the bag, but it's not easy to chase from behind. I feel like we’ve covered a lot of those situations now in the pre-Asian Games, but we’ve still got some work to do,” he explained further.
When asked if a motivational half-time speech was the answer behind India’s change in fortunes in the second half of the Asian Champions Trophy final, Fulton evaded the question. He instead heaped praise on the team for their spirit.
“I won't be sharing that with you, that’s for us. There were some good conversations that were had and I think at the end of the day, it worked. But it was also internally driven and I'm glad that the boys turned it around.”