New Delhi: Injured Jugraj Singh thanked his Indian teammates for fulfilling the promise they made to him by winning the Asia Cup hockey with a 4-2 victory over Pakistan in the final in Kuala Lumpur on Sunday.
“The promise that my teammates and captain had made to me, they have fulfilled that,” Jugraj, who is recuperating from multiple fractures suffered in a car crash, told a TV news channel. “Now I feel I should get well soon and return to the team because they have kept their promise,” he added.
Meanwhile, India coach Rajinder Singh said his players had been like the wounded lion after the league loss to Pakistan and they roared back to prove their supremacy over their arch-rivals.
“I was confident about the victory as even in the league match defeat, we were the better team,” Rajinder said.
“We missed chances and gave away that match on a platter to Pakistan. The players were low on spirit after the defeat and desperate to give one back to Pakistan. But I was not upset because I knew my players were capable of defeating Pakistan,” said the coach.
Rajinder did not miss the pleasant reversal of the team’s fortunes against the cross-border rivals. “In the Champions Trophy, we won first (in the league encounter) but lost the more important (bronze medal play-off) match. This time we staged a comeback after losing to Pakistan in the league round. The team improved day by day in this tournament,” he said.
Pakistan coach Tahir Zaman blamed the defeat to the “poor form of his forwards” and singled out capatin Nadeem Ahmed for not taking the chances.
Rajinder said he was a little worried about the short corner conversions in Jugraj’s absence. “We did miss Jugraj but I think India has some good substitutes. The win is very special for us as it is the first time ever that we have won the Asia Cup”, he added.
Star forward Gagan Ajit Singh said the players spoke to Jugraj over the phone before the match and “all of us had this in the back of our minds that we have to win this one for Jugraj”.