The Bangladesh hockey team ended their Asian Games campaign in sixth position despite a 7-0 defeat against South Korea in the place-deciding match at the Gelora Bung Karno hockey field yesterday.
Gobinathan Krishnamurthy's charges chased their shadows and had little possession in the match, but they would take the satisfaction of finishing sixth for the second time in the history of the competition.
Bangladesh had finished sixth out of seven teams the first time they played in the Asian Games, in 1978, and have since never made it above seventh place. In the last Asian Games they finished eighth.
The men in red and green kept 14th-ranked South Korea at bay till the ninth minute, but once the scoring started, it was one-way traffic.
The Koreans had 19 shots on goal with seven of those ending at the back of the net. Four goals came from open play while two came from penalty corners and one from a penalty stroke.
Bangladesh, on the other hand, had only two shots on goal but they failed to earn a single penalty corner in the entire match.
The Bangladesh coach Krishnamurthy said that the team has a long way to go and the federation needs to do a lot of things to improve the team further for these competitions during his post-match reaction.
“Ranking-wise I'm satisfied as we have finished sixth in the Asian Games, which is a very competitive event given the fact that this is a qualifying platform for the Olympics,” Krishnamurthy said.
“However, performance-wise, we could have done better in certain areas. But for that we need long-term planning for the development of the game, including the domestic competitions, more funding, youth programme and structural things,” the Malaysian opined.
Bangladesh played six matches in total in the competition, winning against Oman -- a team they lost against quite a few times in the recent past -- as well as against Thailand and Kazakhstan while losing by big margins against Malaysia, Pakistan and South Korea.
By dint of finishing sixth, they will not need to play in the qualifiers for the next Asian Games and the next Asia Cup.
The hockey defeat, meanwhile, brought an end to Bangladesh's participation in the 2018 Asian Games. The 163-person contingent failed to earn a single medal -- for the first time in 36 years -- and in doing so they became the third-largest contingent, after Sri Lanka and Maldives, to not win a medal from these Games.
INDIA TAKE BRONZE
It could have been a gold-deciding match, instead the India-Pakistan hockey match had turned into a third-place deciding affair as the subcontinent giants were beaten by Malaysia and Japan in the semifinals.
However, an India-Pakistan match, played anywhere and with any context, is a bit of a grudge match with pride at stake. And India, the champions of the last edition, staked that claim with a 2-1 victory over archrivals Pakistan in a keenly contested affair.
India took an early lead in the third minute through a clever finish from Akashdeep Singh, but Pakistan were always in the match. However, Harmanpreet Singh's penalty corner conversion in the 50th minute gave them comfort before Atiq Mohammad scored two minutes later to bring the eight-time champions back into the game. However, the green shirts failed to score from any of their four penalty corners, which proved to be decisive in the final reckoning.
Meanwhile, the tournament's surprise package, Japan, snatched the gold by beating Malaysia in a penalty shootout of a madcap final later in the night.
Malaysia had taken a 4-1 lead inside the second minute of the second quarter but Japan hit back again and again to take the match into tiebreakers.