The Indian men’s hockey team will face arch-rivals Pakistan for an Asian Games 2018 bronze medal on Saturday at GBK-Hockey Field. India started their Asiad campaign strongly by registering big wins over their opponents. En route to the semifinal, India had beaten Indonesia 17-0, Hong Kong 26-0, Japan 8-0, Korea 5-3 and Sri Lanka 20-0. However, the Indian men’s hockey team, who were the favourites to win an Asian Games gold, could not cross the Malaysian hurdle, losing the semifinal 6-7 in a shoot-out. Pakistan, on the other hand, topped Pool B with a total of 15 points. In the group stage, Pakistan beat Thailand 10-0, Oman 10-0, Kazakhstan 16-0, Malaysia 4-1 and Bangladesh 5-0. However, in the semifinals, Pakistan lost 0-1 to Japan.
In the 2014 Asian Games, India had beaten Pakistan 4-2 in a shoot-out to win an Asiad Gold in hockey after 16 years. Prior to that, India defeated Pakistan in 1966 Asian Games to win the coveted gold medal.
India had beaten South Korea to win gold in Asian Games 1998.
In their last meeting at the Champions Trophy Hockey tournament in Breda, the Netherlands, India thrashed Pakistan 4-0. In that match, Ramandeep Singh, Dilpreet Singh, Mandeep Singh, Lalit Upadhyay scored for India. While, India finished runners-up in the tournament, losing 1-3 to world champions Australia on penalties, Pakistan were last.
Before the Champions Trophy, India met Pakistan at the Commonwealth Games 2018, Gold Coast. The match that ended in a 2-2 draw, saw Dilpreet Singh and Harmanpreet Singh score for India while Muhammad Irfan and Mubashar Ali were on the scoresheet for Pakistan. While India reached the semifinals of the tournament, Pakistan had to play Canada for the 7th-8th classification match.
India lost to New Zealand 2-3 in the semifinals and then went on to lose the bronze medal match 1-2 to England, thus finishing fourth.
Pakistan are the most successful men’s hockey team in the history of the Asian Games, having won eight gold medals. India, on the other hand, have won three golds, finishing second a whopping nine times.
With both teams scoring more than 40 goals at the 2018 Games, this might turn out to be an exciting encounter.