As India lock horns with South Korea in Sunday’s Asia Cup hockey final at the Sultan Azlan Shah Stadium, skipper Sardar Singh still stands by what he had said at the beginning of this tournament. “We are in it to win it,” the star midfielder had told this newspaper last week.
The tournament offered India one final opportunity for a direct qualification to next year’s World Cup, which Sardar & Co have grabbed with both hands by reaching the final.
However, before the start of the tourney, Sardar had said that his team is not thinking about World Cup qualification, but solely concentrating on winning this tournament.
And he maintains that even now. “It’s been a long time that we haven’t tasted a good win or won a major tournament. The Asia Cup can bring belief among hockey lovers back on the Indian team,” Sardar was quoted as saying by PTI on Saturday.
South Korea ended Pakistan’s hopes of qualifying for the World Cup with a 2-1 win on Friday, while India booked a berth in next year’s World Cup in the Netherlands with a 2-0 win over hosts Malaysia in the semi-final.
Sardar’s and drag-flicker VR Raghunath are the only members of the present team who were part of the Indian side that failed to qualify for the 2008 Beijing Olympics. He’s suffered the ignominy of missing out on a major tournament, and had India not done well here, it might have missed out on the World Cup too for the first time ever.
‘Title can motivate youth’
That’s the reason sardar wants to win it for the fans. “The Asia Cup title can motivate youngsters, who are leaving the game and taking to other sports. I hope this win can infuse life back into Indian hockey. “I hope this win can bring back smiles on the faces of Indian sports lovers. Indian hockey requires the Asia Cup title,” he said.