After a slow start, Korea went on to keep their unbeaten record to qualify for the final when they narrowly beat South Africa 2-1 in their final Group match in the 29th Sultan Azlan Shah Cup 2022 International Men’s hockey tournament at the Sultan Azlan Shah Stadium, Ipoh, this evening.
With the win, the defending champions have chalked four wins and a draw (scoreless draw against Egypt) to attain 13 points.
“A win is a win. We want to win every game we play and win well and that is what I told my players. But maybe, having qualified for the final, they took things easy and also thought that South Africa would be tired after yesterday’s game against Malaysia,” said Korean coach Shin Seok Kyo.
“We could have done better, but we still won the game and that is what matters in the end.
“We are looking forward to the final and the two days rest before the final will be good for the team.”
Asked whom he preffered to meet in the final – Malaysia or Japan -, Shin replied: “South Africa! No seriously, any Asian team is difficult teams. But I prefer to play Malaysia npot because we beat them (3-0) in opening match here, buty we rather playing a stronger team and with electrying atmosphere.”
South Africa’s coach Garreth Ewing was dissapointed with his team’s performance for making some juvenile mistakes.
“This is the problem we will face with young and inexperieced players but today we had no excuse to make these mistakes and we paid the price,” said Ewing.
Asked if Korean played below par, which gave them a good chance to win or draw the match, Ewing said he believes that his team played well except for the mistakes to make it difficult for Korea.
South Africa with three points from their only win against Pakistan (4-1) will play in 5th and 6th placing match on Wednesday at the revised time of 4pm instead of 6pm.
In yhe match, South Africa were the early aggressors but Korean goalkeeper Kim Jaehyeon was in element to keep his side in the game without conceding.
Jeon Byungjin finally gave Korea a halftime lead off a penalty flick in 27th minute after umpire Ahmed ElSayed only awarded after a request for VAR for by the Koreans for an infringement in melee in the circle which the umpire had missed.
On resumption, Jeon put his team two up in the 32nd minute off a penalty corner.
But the never say die attitude of the African players saw them score of a penalty corner in the 40th minute when 23-year-old Bradley Sherwood beat goalkeeper Kim.
Due to adverse weather conditions prevailing in Ipoh – anticipating heavy rain leading to stoppages causing delay in completion of matches, the 5th and 6th placing match (Match No 16) and 3rd and 4th placing match (Match No 17) which will be played on Nov 9 (Wednesday) will now be played at 4.00pm and 6.15pm respectively instead of 6.00pm and 8.15pm