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Asian Champions Trophy: Sad our fans couldn’t watch Ind beat Pak, says Sreejesh

The goalkeeper, who sizzled in the final of the Asian Champions Trophy, says the team wants to qualify for the London Games

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Whatever be the sport, an India-Pakistan clash is bound to produce a hero. When India defeated their arch-rivals in the final of the inaugural Asian Champions Trophy in Ordos (China) on Sunday, goalkeeper Sreejesh PR had done enough to walk into the history books.

Sreejesh saved four strokes in regular time and two more in the penalty shootout which India won 4-2. “It was my first final against Pakistan. But there was no pressure as we had already played them in the league stage (two days prior to the final),” he says.

Talking about his saves, Sreejesh believes it was a collective effort. “We were confident of putting up a good show. We saved as many as eight penalty strokes in regular time, and I think I saved four of them. During the shootout in the final I was able to save two strokes. Even the other boys did a good job,” he adds.

Interestingly, the umpires employed the new format during the penalty shootout. In the new set-up, the striker needs to run in from the 25-yard-line and beat the goalkeeper within eight seconds. Sreejesh says he has taken a liking to the new rule.

“I can’t talk for others, but I enjoyed it because it gives me more time to prepare. This wasn’t the case earlier. So it’s a good start, I guess,” he said. In fact, Sreejesh believes he outsmarted Pakistan’s Haseem Abdul Khan and Shafqat Rasool during the shootout as he had time to gauge their movements.

Sad as it may sound, fans in India couldn’t watch their team win. “It is sad that our countrymen couldn’t watch the matches at all. I feel some channel should have at least shown the semis and the final. If there are no takers for the national sport, then how will people in Indian watch their team play?” he wonders. This way, the sport won’t grow,” he adds.

Sreejesh said the team’s next aim is to qualify for the London Olympics. “We are working hard,” he says. All the best!

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