India and Pakistan find themselves in a place where neither wanted to be. They face each other in the bronze medal men’s hockey match at the 2018 Asian Games on Saturday.
The scene could not be further from what happened just four years ago, when the two sides had met in the final at Incheon and that too after a gap of 24 years. It was India who prevailed walked away with the gold after a nail-biting shootout.
Pakistan has the most number of gold medals in Asiad history with eight, whereas India have three gold medals, and the two neighbouring countries have a total 14 medals.
Defending champions India were handed a heartbreaking 6-7 loss by Malaysia in sudden death after an exhausting shoot-off with the game finishing at 2-2 in regulation time. India’s failure to secure their place in the final meant that Malaysia had denied them a direct entry into the 2020 Olympics.
Pakistan on the other hand lost 1-0 to Japan.
India, who had scored a record 76 goals in the group stage, were left stunned after SV Sunil missed his attempt in the sudden death. Only Akashdeep and Harmanpreet scored in the first five shots of the shoot-off while Manpreet Singh, Dilpreet Singh and Sunil faltered.
Interestingly, India had defeated Japan in their group phase match 8-0, whereas Pakistan beat Malaysia 4-1 in the same round.
ASIAN GAMES 2018 FULL COVERAGE | MEDALS
Goalkeeper PR Sreejesh kept India in the game as he only let in two goals from Muhammad Ashari and Fitri Saari. Tengku Ahmad, Faizal Saari and Muhammad Azuan missed the target for Malaysia.
In sudden death, Malaysia’s all five attempts were successful while India scored the first four before Sunil cracked under pressure.
Earlier on Friday, the Indian women’s hockey team failed to break the 36-year-old gold jinx after losing to Japan 1-2 in the final.
In the other match of the day, Malaysia and Japan will be fighting for their first gold medal in men’s hockey. Japan will look to become only the second country to win both the men’s and women’s gold medal, after the Republic of Korea had achieved the feat back in 1986 and 1994.