Pakistan's Men's Junior Hockey team faced a significant setback as they lost the final match of the Asia Cup 2023 against their arch-rivals, India.
Despite showcasing remarkable performance with back-to-back victories leading up to the final, Pakistan succumbed to a 2-1 defeat in Salalah, Oman. India's Angad Bar Singh spearheaded his team's success by scoring a goal in the 13th minute, giving India an early lead.
Adding to the scoreline, Araijeet Singh Hundal netted another goal merely seven minutes later, securing a comfortable two-goal advantage for India. In the 38th minute, Ali Basharat managed to put Pakistan on the scoreboard with an assist from his teammate, Shahid Abdul.
However, despite their relentless efforts and dominant performance in the second half, the Men in Green were unable to break through India's strong defence. India emerged as the tournament champions, maintaining an impeccable record of no losses throughout.
Conversely, Pakistan's only defeat arrived at the hands of India in the final match. Notably, Abdul Hannan Shahid of Pakistan was honoured with the Player of the Tournament award, while Abdul Rahman claimed the title of top scorer in the tournament.
This clash between India and Pakistan in the final of the 2023 Men's Junior Asia Cup mirrored their encounter in the 2015 tournament held in Malaysia. In that contest, India emerged victorious with an impressive scoreline of 6-2 against Pakistan. By securing their fourth Men's Junior Asia Cup title, India set a new record, having previously claimed the championship in 2004, 2008, and 2015. On the other hand, Pakistan's successful campaign in the tournament occurred in 1988, 1992, and 1996.
However, beyond the on-field battles, off-field challenges marred Pakistan's journey in the Asia Cup. The players and officials of the Pakistan junior hockey team reportedly did not receive their daily allowances during the tournament due to a lack of funds.
Despite the Pakistan Hockey Federation's multiple requests to the Pakistan Sports Board for financial support before the team's departure, the necessary funds were not provided. Consequently, the PHF had to cover the expenses for tickets and accommodation out of its own resources.