India and Pakistan share Asian Champions Trophy

Delighted India and Pakistan players with the Asian Champions Trophy at the Sultan Qaboos Sports Complex on Sunday night after the teams were declared joint winners of the fifth edition of the tournament (V K Shafeer/Muscat Daily)

Thousands of India and Pakistan fans, men and women along with children, dressed in both the countries' colours flocked at the Sultan Qaboos Sports Complex (SQSC) on Sunday night expecting a cracker of a contest for the Asian Champions Trophy title.

However, heavy rains late in the evening dashed their hopes as the final of the fifth edition of the tournament was washed out with the Asian Hockey Federation (AHF) deciding to declare both the teams as joint winners.

There were few hundred fans left at 10.30pm to cheer both the teams when the announcement was made as the awards ceremony was held under light drizzle on a water-sodden pitch.

H H Sayyid Taimur bin Asaad al Said, the chief guest of the evening, who had arrived for the match at the start, did the honours of presenting the trophy and the medals in the presence of AHF chief Tayyab Ikram and the president of the Oman Hockey Association (OHA) Talib al Wahaibi. Also present on the occasion was H E Rashad al Hinai, the Undersecretary at the Ministry of Sports Affairs.

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India and Pakistan captains receive the trophy from H H Sayyid Taimur bin Asaad al Said (third from left)

India captain Manpreet Singh lifted the trophy after a toss, which decided which team would receive the trophy while Pakistan players received the gold medals. Indian players will receive their gold medals later.

In his remarks to Muscat Daily, India coach Harendra Singh said, “It was disappointing to see rains wash out the final with thousands of fans turning up at the stadium. It would have been risky to play given the heavy rains and the state of the turf.”

Rains started pouring ten minutes ahead of the scheduled start (9.10 pm) following the bronze-medal playoff that went into shootout and was won by Malaysia against Japan.

Following a lengthy wait, the tournament director had a meeting with the coaches of both Pakistan and India before the AHF CEO, Tayyab Ikram, announced the decision of declaring the teams joint winners.

“We had called this Asian Champions Trophy a messenger of peace and it turned out to be though I am equally disappointed that an entertaining final could not take place. The best option then was to have both the teams as joint winners,” said Ikram.

Malaysia bags bronze

Earlier in a third match playoff, which was a repeat of Asian Games final in Jakarta last month, Malaysia exacted a revenge as it edged past Japan 3-2 in a shootout after the teams were locked in a 2-2 stalemate at the end of regulation time.

Tengku Tajuddin clinched the issue for Malaysia with the fifth shootout after Wataru Matsumoto’s shot for Japan rebounded off the post Aiman Nik Rozemi and Norsyafiq Sumantri had earlier scored for Malaysia, while Mahran Jalil and Syed Cholan failed to do so.

For Japan, Hiromasa Ochiai and Hirotaka Wakuri found the target in the shootout, but Koji Yamasaki and Seren Tanaka faltered.

In regulation period, Japan took the initial lead through Kenji Kitazato in the 18th minute, only to see Faizal Saari equalise with a penalty corner two minutes later. Saari  was again on target in the 46th minute with a goal for Malaysia, but even this lead was short-lived. Wakuri scored in open play to equalise for Japan within two minutes and the contest went to the shootout.

India's Akashdeep Singh was named the Most Valuable Player of the tournament while his teammate P Sreejesh was declared the best goalkeeper. Pakistan's Abu Mahmood was named the Most Promising Player while Malaysia's Faizal Saari emerged as the tournament's top-scorer with eight goals.

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