Incheon: Winning the Asian Games hockey gold is one of the biggest moments in his life, said the triumphant India captain Sardar Singh after his team won the nerve-wrecking shoot-out to end its 16-year gold medal drought in the Asiad and earn a direct berth to the 2016 Rio Olympics.
"This is one of the biggest moments for me. We came here to win the Asian Games and directly qualify for the Rio Olympics and we have achieved our aim," said a beaming Sardar at the post-match media conference at the Sianhok Stadium.
India defeated arch-rivals and defending champions Pakistan 4-2 in a penalty shoot-out after the two teams were locked 1-1 in the regulation time of the summit clash.
Sardar, who led the country to only its third Asian Games gold in 15 attempts, heaped praise on coach Terry Walsh and the support staff.
"Pressure was there but he (pointing to coach Terry Walsh sitting beside him) and the other support staff made sure it was off when we went into the game," he said.
India had earlier won in 1966 and 1998, while Pakistan had won the title eight times in the past, including in 2010 at Guangzhou.
Coach Walsh described the gold medal victory as "a big moment for Indian hockey". "I am very pleased for the team and the players. It's a big moment for the players and my congratulations to him (Sardar) and the players. It's a special moment for Indian hockey," he said.
Walsh said no matter how good the support staff might be, but finally the onus is on the players to deliver on the field.
Pakistan started off well but India took control in the second quarter and the coach said, "They played exactly like they did earlier. In the second quarter India took them apart. They (Pakistan) did not recover the lead again.
"Pakistan played the old style of hockey, but we played the modern game. That was the difference. Our players stayed mentally alert throughout. Playing with only passion is not enough. In our coaching group we have some real experience (to handle this)," he explained