Also ReadThe victorious Indian hockey team arrived in Chennai from Kuala Lumpur today to a hero's welcome. In Indian hockey's biggest triumph in the international arena since the 1998 Asian Games gold medal, India won the Asia Cup for the first time ever beating Pakistan 4-2 in the final on Sunday. For the team, it was a promise they kept for injured penalty corner ace Jugraj Singh. And to add the icing to the cake, Sandeep Michael won the Most Promising Youngster award. Former India hockey coach Bhaskaran gives the credit of for the victory to present coach Rajinder Singh as much as the players. "He was my student. He has made all the difference," said Bhaskaran. Challenges ahead But this is just the beginning of the long hard road to qualifying for the Athens Olympics next year. "Though we have qualified for the World Cup, we still need to qualify for the Olympics for which we have to compete with some very formidable teams. From this match we have to understand our strong and weak points and aim for the Olympic gold," said former Olympian Ashok Kumar. Former Indian hockey team captain Zafar Iqbal said the victory will greatly revive the flagging popular interest in the game. Meanwhile, all eyes are on Jugraj and his team members are also hoping he recovers in time for the Olympics. President hails victory President A P J Abdul Kalam has hailed India's victory and said it was the result of "planning, determination and the capacity to dream" of the team members. In a message to the hockey team, Dr Kalam said, "I am sure that this triumph will further boost the morale of our team as they prepare for the World Cup in 2006." Union Minister for Youth Affairs and Sports Vikram Verma said the historic win was a proud moment for the whole country. "May the team continue to bring more laurels to India, a feat which they are capable of achieving. They have made the whole nation proud," Verma added. All India Council of Sports President Vijay Kumar Malhotra also congratulated the team for their maiden Asia Cup triumph.
Topics : Hockey