Fired-up Pakistan annexed the Asian Games men’s hockey gold medal after 20 years with a convincing 2-0 win over Malaysia in the final on Thursday.
Veteran Sohail Abbas put Pakistan ahead with his team’s first penalty corner in the 26th minute, before striker Rehan Butt increased the margin three minutes after half-time.
It was Pakistan’s eighth Asiad hockey gold, ending a drought that stretched back to Beijing in 1990, and handed them their first major title since winning the World Cup in Sydney in 1994.
Pakistan ended the year on a high after a disappointing eight-month period in which they finished a humiliating last at the World Cup in March and took sixth place at the Commonwealth Games in October.
The Pakistanis kneeled in prayer after the final whistle, before lifting their Dutch coach Michel van den Heuvel over their shoulders to loud applause from the stands.
Pakistan captain Zeeshan Ashraf said he was at a loss for words to describe his feelings at winning a long-awaited title which gave his team a direct entry to the 2012 London Olympics
“It’s our turn to celebrate,” said Ashraf. “Taking the gold after 20 years was important, but I am happier that we have also booked a place in the Olympics.
“What can I say about my team? They were just brilliant. We came here to win and achieved our target. Hopefully the past will be forgotten.
“Our country is facing so many problems that it needs moments like this to celebrate. I am sure our win would have brought smiles on the faces of all Pakistanis.”