The Indian men’s hockey team thrashed arch-rivals Pakistan 4-0 in the Asian Champions Trophy at the Mayor Radhakrishnan Hockey Stadium in Chennai. It was Harmanpreet Singh who struck twice while Jugraj Singh and Akashdeep Singh were the other two goal-scorers as the Indians sailed their way through to the knockouts, dumping Pakistan out of the tournament.
But credit where it’s due, Pakistan started the game superbly and around 90 seconds mark they could have opened the scoring. But the view umpire ruled it out as a dangerous play. However, Pakistan men’s hockey team coach Muhammad Saqlain blamed the umpires for ruling out a legitimate goal and as a result breaking the morale of the young Pakistan side.
“Umpiring errors at this level are not justified. Our first goal was legitimate after the umpire had played the advantage. There was some miscommunication between the umpires and they got it wrong,” Saqlain said after the match.
He believes that it is too tough to come back against a strong team if such an umpiring error happens. Saqlain felt that it was the turning point of the game. “It is tough to come back against a strong team if something like this happens. India took advantage of their first goal and carried the momentum throughout the game. I think if that first goal had gone in, it would have been a different story. But my boys played well and I believe they will only improve from here,” the Pakistan coach added.
It would have been a different game had Pakistan scored early on. The Indians would have attacked even more, opening spaces in the backline. But unfortunately the video umpire ruled it out as dangerous play as the on-field umpire had played advantage to Pakistan.
Pakistan’s assistant coach Rehan Butt also shared the same emotions. He highlighted how these moments break the morale of the youngsters. “Poor umpiring lows down the morale of young players and it happened with us. We started very well and it was clear that we were playing good but one wrong decision derailed our momentum.”
Captain Harmanpreet Singh changed the narrative with two great strikes in the first half. While Jugraj Singh and Akashdeep Singh found the net in the second half.
Speaking on the controversial call, Indian coach Craig Fulton felt that video referrals are there for such cases and the decision was already made by the umpire. “That is why video referrals for. Umpire gave their decision. We played well and defended well. So, that is important for us,” he said.
India have qualified for the semifinals and will play against Japan in the knockout clash. While Korea will face Malaysia in the other semifinal.