Dhaka (Bangladesh), 18 October, 2017: India held their nerve till the last hooter to hold defending Champions Korea to a 1-1 draw in their first Super 4s match here at the Hero Asia Cup 2017 on Wednesday. It was Gurjant Singh’s 59th minute goal that ensured India remained in the hunt for the Hero Asia Cup 2017 Final on Sunday. Jungjun Lee had earned Korea the 1-0 lead in the 41st minute to put pressure on India.
Top ranked India opened the game patiently, rotating the ball between themselves waiting for an opening into the Korean defence. Despite the several circle penetrations, it took till the 14th minute for the first real chance to materialize, as India won the first PC of the game. The opportunity went amiss though, Harmanpreet Singh attempting a different set piece, by flicking to injector Ramandeep Singh. But the ball was blocked away by Korean defender. Earlier, Korea’s Mookyoung Lee made a brave attempt when he dribbled into India’s circle and made a diving effort to take a shot on goal. But he was wide off the mark.
After ending the first quarter in a stalemate, Korean defence continued to test the Indian forwards as they allowed little room for penetration. Meanwhile, the Indian defence stayed resolute in their circle to deny their feisty opponents a lead. Both teams couldn’t find a successful breakthrough as they went into half-time with scoreboard reading 0-0.
Though India were attacking constantly, getting closer each time to finding a breakthrough, it didn’t help their cause with the Koreans constantly intercepting their passes. A close chance in the 40th minute saw Amit Rohidas assist Akashdeep Singh in the circle but the forward could not fashion a deflection. One minute later, Jungjun Lee fashioned a chance out of nothing, spinning away from his markers to unleash a shot on the goal; beating India goalkeeper Akash Chikte to the post taking a 1-0 lead.
Down to the final quarter with time ticking away, India attacked in droves but Korea stayed resilient in their defence. India removed their goalkeeper with less than four minutes to go for the match. In the 57th minute, India appealed for a PC but the video umpired ruled otherwise.
However, the following minute, good counter by Sardar Singh saw the ball passed on to Gurjant Singh who won India their second PC of the match. But a video referral by Korea denied India the chance. It was tense moments in the Moulana Bhashani Hockey Stadium with spectators on their toes. India, however, held their nerve to come up with a brilliant attack that saw Akashdeep take a shot on goal but it bounced off only to find Gurjant close in on the goal and finish the job for India. The match ended in a 1-1 draw with both teams splitting points and keeping their hopes alive in the tournament.
Indian National Coach Sjoerd Marijne complimented the Korean defence that saw the match go down till the final second. “We had 51 entries in the 25 yard-mark but only 9 circle entries, we couldn’t get enough PCs and that’s where we struggled today. They were really good with their defence. I am happy in the third quarter we went forward, in fourth quarter we played some long balls inside and eventually scored, its a positive thing. Most important thing is to get good recovery for tomorrow’s match against Malaysia.”
Meanwhile, Korean Coach, Shin Seok Kyo, expressed delight over his team’s effort. “India are a higher-ranked team and I sat the night watching their videos and made a plan for every player, especially the forwards. We played well defensively but one of our player got injured so we couldn’t put more pressure on our attack.,” he stated adding that their match against Pakistan tomorrow will be difficult and they need to be well-prepared for it. “We hope to play the World Cup next year and want to finish Hero Asia Cup 2017 in the final, but let’s take it match-by-match,” he said.
Goal of the Game:
Presented By: Mr. Abdul Aziz (Deputy Managing Director First Security Islami Bank)
Winner: Jungjun Lee
HERO Man of the Match Award
Presented by: Mr Jamal Haidar (Former National Player and Member of the Asian Eleven, 1985)
Winner: Lee Seungil
About Hero Asia Cup 2017 Super 4s:
The Super 4s consists of India and Pakistan who topped Pool A along with Malaysia and Korea who topped Pool B respectively. Starting Wednesday, each of the teams in Super 4s with play against each other and the team that finishes top two in the Super 4s Pool Standings will make the Hero Asia Cup final on October 22 while the other two teams will battle for the bronze medal. The Super 4s offers the teams an equal opportunity to vie against hockey super powers in Asia, not only making the tournament exciting but it also ensures the winner of the title has played against all top teams in Asia to emerge victorious.
Next Pakistan play Korea on Thursday, October 19, 2017 at 15.00hrs local time while Malaysia will be up against India in a crunch tie on the same day at 17.30hrs local time.
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