Acme Chattogram crowned HCT champions
Acme Chattogram clinched the title of the Hockey Champions Trophy with a 4-3 win over Monarch Padma in the penalty shoot-out following a 2-2 draw in regulation time of the exciting final at Maulana Bhasani Hockey Stadium yesterday.
Peer Hinrichs, Farhad Ahmed Shitul, Devindar Walmiki and Kellerman converted all four penalties to win the game for Chattogram. Padma's Naim Uddin and Krishna Kumar squandered two successive attempts after Korean Woohyeong Seo, Indian K Chinglesana and Australian Kiren Ian Govers converted the first three penalties.
Monarch Padma, who were leading the high-octane final 2-1 until the 58th minute were on the verge of waiting to celebrate the championships. Chattogram's Arshad Hossain equalizer made for an exciting finish to the game in the dying minutes.
Chattogram found the net twice in those last two minutes, although one was ruled out as the match went to penalties.
Chattogram held their nerves and showed character in making a turnaround in the dying minutes of the final, having come to the match as the top team in a tournament where 34 matches were held inside three weeks and followed enthusiastically by the local players and organisers.
On the other hand, winning the trophy would have been a different story for Padma who started the campaign with a massive 7-1 defeat at the hands of Chattogram and lost four of the first five games. They bounced back unbelievably to remain unbeaten in next seven matches until the penalty shoot-out defeat to Chattogram.
Acme Chattogram and Monarch Padma beat each other once in the group-stage matches before the final. However Chattogram dominated proceedings in the final as Padma looked to sit back and defend.
Padma however took the lead against the run of play as Japanese in-form defender Miya Tanimitsu converted the match's first penalty corner in the 14th minute but both teams fought equally in the second half before Chattogram hit back in the third quarter.
Chattogram finally leveled the margin in the 42nd minute with Arshad Hossain placing a square-pass from Kellerman of Netherlands past the goalie but soon Padma restored the lead with a strike from Pakistan's Saif Khan in the 45th minute.
The excitement was still intact in the fourth quarter as Chattogram went all-out attack in the last three minutes without a goalkeeper in a bid to increase the number of on-field players and the strategy paid off with Arshad equalizing the margin in the 59th minute.
"It has been a great feeling for all players because we worked hard throughout the tournament. It was a great feat to watch. Under the guidance of great coach Wasim Mahmud, we followed the structure of whatever he told us from day one and the ultimate target was to win the championship. We progressed match by match, week by week. Today is the day we all were waiting to lift the trophy and we have done it together," said Chattogram's key player Devindar Walmiki, who scored the 19 goals in 12 matches to be named man of the tournament.
Monarch Padma's key player Rasel Mahmud Jimmy was not unhappy with the defeat, especially the way the tournament was completed.
"It was like what a final match should be, though many thought it would be a one-way traffic. Both teams fought till the last minute. I think Acme Chattogram are a good team. Of course, we all could have been happy had we won the final but unfortunately, we couldn't lift the title. I don't have any regrets but I want to congratulate the boys for the way they came back in the tournament to reach the final."