Murugappa Gold Cup: IOC beats PNB 3-1 to defend title

Gurjinder Singh scored a brace to help IOC successfully defend the Murugappa Gold Cup title in a 3-1 win over PNB in the final on Sunday.

Murugappa Gold Cup 2019 winner Indian Oil Corporation Ltd. (IOC).   -  M. Vedhan

Gurjinder Singh starred with a brace as defending champion Indian Oil Corporation Ltd (IOC) beat Punjab National Bank (PNB) 3-1 in the final of the 2019 Murugappa Gold Cup hockey tournament at the Mayor Radhakrishnan Stadium, Chennai on Sunday.

IOC, which had to dig deep in the 6-3 semifinal win on Saturday, began cautiously while PNB looked nervous going forward. In the 11th minute, Indian international Mandeep Mor failed to convert a penalty corner as the first quarter ended goalless.

In the 23rd minute, IOC won back-to-back penalty corners as Gurjinder Singh found the roof of the net after receiving a cut-back from V. R. Raghunath. The holder thought it was 2-0 up in the 35th minute when dragflicker Raghunath passed the ball back to pusher Talwinder Singh at the baseline who deflected it into the top corner. However, the goal was ruled out for dangerous play.

Gurjinder put IOC 2-0 up in the 38th minute with a dragflick into top right corner. In the 40th minute, Sukhjeet Singh failed to connect when he dived towards the near post to meet a cross from the right side. However, Vishal Antil scored from a penalty corner rebound in the 44th minute to make it 2-1.

In the 59th minute, PNB missed a glorious chance to force a shootout when Mandeep Mor's low dragflick narrowly missed the far post. Before PNB could regroup, IOC set off on a quick counter and player-coach Deepak Thakur sealed the title with a finish at the near post by receiving a defence-splitting pass from Rahil Mosin.

Unity the success mantra for IOC

IOC made it three domestic trophies in a row with Sunday’s win after it came into the tournament on the back winning the Bengaluru Super Division Championship and Bangalore Cup.

“Our team knows how to win,” said an elated Devesh Chauhan, IOC’s team manager. “Most of the players have been playing with IOC for the past seven-eight years, so they know each other’s movements on the pitch well. They know when to conserve energy and when to go for the goal,” he added.

“Off the pitch we are very united. We respect each other and have very open team discussions, which is why we come up with good game plans,” defender V.R. Raghunath said of the team, which has nine Indian internationals (current and former) in its ranks.

Final Result:

IOC 3 (Gurjinder Singh 23’, 38’ Deepak Thakur 59’) beat PNB 1(Vishal Antil 44’)