JAKARTA: Japan, ranked 14 in the world beat South Korea 2-0 in the women’s first semi-final at the Asian Games at the GBK Hockey Stadium.
The match was played at a furious pace and both teams went at each other with determination. For three-quarters of the game, both teams were evenly matched although Japan had better chances to get the goals.
It was in the fourth quarter that the deciding goals were scored.
The Koreans ranked 10 in the world played defensively in the earlier stages and relied on their long ball and counter attacks for the goals.
The Japanese were ready for this tactic.
The Koreans have qualified for the final on eight occasions in the nine editions. The only time they missed the final was in 2006 when they finished in fourth place.
They are also the most successful team in women’s hockey at the Asian Games, winning five gold medals and three silver medals.
Japan, on the other hand, has been runner-up on three occasions. Twice the tournament podium was decided on a round robin basis in 1978 and 1994. Both times they finished behind Korea. In 2006 they made the final only to lose to China in the final.
Their coach Anthony Farry was excited at the win and felt that they did enough to get the result.
“It was a tremendous effort and we really played well. The Koreans were also at their best and their style of play was expected by us. We have been improving with each game and there was a lot of effort form the players. The fighting spirit was huge and I sm looking forward to the final now,” he said.
The first goal was from a direct drag flick taken by Akiko Ota in the 48th minute.
The Koreans then went into the attack and pressured the Japanese defence.
There were several close calls, but the Japanese defence prevailed.
In the 58th minute, the Koreans used a kicking back and took out their goalkeeper Hwang Hyeona. The Japanese used the opportunity to slot home the second goal in the 59th minute through Minami Shimizu and seal their place in the final.