Indian media: Hockey team's 'golden triumph'

Indian players showed great courage in beating archrivals Pakistan, papers say Image copyright AFP
Image caption Indian players showed great courage in beating archrivals Pakistan, papers say

Media feel India's win over Pakistan in the hockey finals of the Asian Games has brought back the "golden" days of the national sport.

The Indian team beat their arch rivals 4-2 on penalties in Incheon, South Korea, on Thursday after both sides were tied at 1-1 at the end of the scheduled time.

The "most cherished" victory has ensured that India's "16-years-long wait" for an Asian Games gold in men's hockey is now over, papers say.

India has eight Olympic gold medals, but the last one came in 1980. The team even failed to qualify for the Beijing Games in 2008.

But papers feel the gold medal in South Korea may act as catalyst to revive hockey in India. That sentiment is very much reflected in the front-page headlines on Friday.

"Indian hockey takes golden leap to Rio", reads the banner headline in The Pioneer.

The Hindustan Times says: "India shoot out Pakistan".

"India's recent debacles on the hockey turf had prompted even their most die-hard fans to lose faith in the team… Indian hockey desperately needed to script a new success story... Thursday night at the Seonhak Hockey Stadium provided such an opportunity, and skipper Sardar Singh and his merry band took it with both hands", says the Mail Today.

The Indian Express praised the team for showing the nerve to win in a closely-contested final.

"Unlike most Indian teams in the recent past, the players showed plenty of courage and mental strength to overcome a stubborn opponent in a match that could have easily gone the other way", it says.

Goalkeeper P R Sreejesh, who made two crucial saves during the penalty shootout, has received special praise.

"For nearly 45 minutes after the medal ceremony, goalkeeper P R Sreejesh stood at the centre of the pitch, swarmed by hundreds of Indian expats from Incheon and nearby Seoul. Everyone wanted a piece of him," says the Indian Express.

The win has also ensured India a direct entry in the 2016 Rio Olympics.

However, the Hindustan Times urges the players to "guard against complacency" and work on "sharpening their skills and fitness" for 2016.

Beyond symbolism

Moving on to other stories, papers are also discussing Prime Minister Narendra Modi's challenges in the implementation of his "Clean India" campaign.

Mr Modi launched the campaign on Thursday, sweeping part of a street in Delhi.

The initiative coincided with the birthday of independence leader Mahatma Gandhi.

Papers feel the initiative needs to go beyond "symbolism" and the public needs to contribute to keep the movement alive.

"The greatest fear about the Swachchh Bharat [Clean India] events… is that the mass movement may lose momentum once the grand tokenism of leaders wielding brooms cools off… To give the next generation a cleaner India is a task we cannot duck anymore. The time for action began the minute the photo opportunities with politicians and bureaucrats got over", writes The Asian Age.

The Times of India has similar sentiments.

"Public cleanliness has for too long been someone else's problem and by putting the onus back on the citizen and voluntarism…, Mr Modi is not only signalling the limitations of state capacity but also calling for a new kind of relationship between the government and the new empowered citizen," it says.

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