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Indian Hockey Team Recall Gold Medal Win in 2014 Asian Games

“The final was my day,” recalls goalkeeper and then vice-captain PR Sreejesh.

Updated
Hockey
3 min read

Video Editor: Purnendu Pritam

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It was the 2014 Asian Games and the Indian men’s hockey team obviously had one goal – bring home the gold.

Except, the country hadn’t won the yellow metal at the quadrennial event in 16 years. Senior player SV Sunil said that in the run-up to the Games, winning the gold had been a topic of discussion in several team meetings.

India hadn’t won a gold at the Asian Games since 1998. So in the team meetings, we had discussed that that should be our only goal.
SV Sunil

“That tournament was very important for us because it was a chance for us to get direct qualification for the 2016 Olympic Games,” he said.

For more latest news and updates from the 2018 Asian Games, click here.

India made it to the semi-finals of the 2014 Asian Games will relative ease, losing just to Pakistan in the group stages. They defeated Sri Lanka 8-0, Oman 7-0 and China 2-0. Finishing second in their pool with 9 points, India set up a semi-final clash against four-time champions South Korea.

Akashdeep scored a goal at the crucial time and gave India a 1-0 lead in the semi-final. Then through the rest of the match, we played a defensive game. It was a pressure situation because it was important for both teams to win. We played our best, played a defensive game and reached the final.
SV Sunil

India set up a gold medal match against defending champions Pakistan, the only team they’d lost to in the tournament so far.

Senior goalkeeper PR Sreejesh, who was then the vice-captain of the team and will be leading India at the 2018 Asian Games said, “Whenever you’re preparing for a tournament your ultimate aim is to get a medal. Our team was capable at that time, and we knew we were going to make it to the finals and create history”.

“We also knew it wasn’t going to be easy because the other teams were also trying to get a ticket to the Olympics.”

Manpreet Singh recalls how the team didn’t want to repeat the mistakes they’d made against Pakistan in the group stages. “We wanted to convert our chances, and not let Pakistan score,” said the midfielder.

With the scores level 1-1 at full time, the final of the 2014 Asian Games went into penalty shootouts. “In 2014, in the semi-final, I didn’t even touch one ball. But the final was my day. The players had done a wonderful job. They drew the match 1-1 and put the responsibility of winning on me,” said Sreejesh.

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Sreejesh produced breathtaking saves in the shoot-off to deny Pakistan's Abdul Haseem Khan and Muhammad Umar Butta. India on the other hand netted four of their 5 shots, with Akashdeep Singh, Rupinder Pal Singh, Birendra Lakra and Dhramvir Singh scoring.

With a 4-2 win in a nerve-wracking shootout, the Indian hockey team ended a 16-year drought, bring home the gold as well as securing a place in the Rio Olympics.

After the penalty shootout, the golds were hung around our neck and the national anthem was playing. It was a proud moment for us. The second-place and third-place teams were standing there but only India’s national anthem was playing. That feeling is indescribable. It was completely different.
Rupinder Pal Singh

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