Asia Cup win reminds me of our 2003 triumph, says Dhanraj Pillay

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Asia Cup win reminds me of our 2003 triumph, says Dhanraj Pillay

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SportsCafe Desk


India hockey legend Dhanraj Pillay was ecstatic with India’s Asia Cup final win and has stated that it reminded him of the 2003 triumph when India won it first under his captaincy. He also expressed his delight for assistant coach Jugraj Singh, who couldn’t participate in 2003 after an accident.

India lifted the Asia Cup 2017 title in Dhaka on Sunday as they held off an adamant Malaysia side to finish the game 2-1. Goals from Ramandeep Singh and Lalit Upadhayay early in the game saw India win the tournament for the first time since 2007.

Former India hockey captain Dhanraj Pillay seemed overjoyed by the victory and stated that it reminded him of India’s first ever Asia Cup win back in 2003 when he was the captain of the side. India went into the Cup as the favourites and remained unbeaten in the entire tournament.

Speaking to News18, Pillay said, “I would like to congratulate the team for their emphatic performance. No doubt we were favourites to win, but I was impressed by the kind of hockey we played. I have no doubt we are on the right track.”

He pointed out India’s victory against Pakistan in the Super 4 that paved the way for the final. After beating the archrivals once in the group stage, India needed just a draw against Pakistan to reach the final. However, they turned on the heat in some fashion an ended the game 4-0 by some late goals.

Pillay said, "Pakistan might not be the same team, but India-Pakistan matches are always tough. Both countries are so passionate about their hockey and players have to give their 100 percent each and every time. It's a high-pressure game."

The win will also come as a huge achievement for coach Sjoerd Marijne and his assistant Jugraj Singh. Marijne’s appointment as India’s coach came under huge criticism as he had no prior experience of managing a top men's team. Marijne’s calm and composed stature impressed Pillay and he especially expressed his happiness for Jugraj.

“Jugraj was one of the finest talents in Indian hockey. Back in 2003, his drag flicking skills were among the best in the world. He had an unfortunate accident which shortened his career. I remember in 2003, I visited him in the hospital to give my medal and show the team's support.”

“But now he has a medal of his own, his impact on the team was for everyone to see," Pillay said, with a tinge of emotion in his voice,” he added.

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