Kuantan (24 Oct, 2016): Paul Lissek’s Korea recovered well in the QNET 4th Asian Champions Trophy and moved closer to the semi-finals with a 5-3 win over China at the Wisma Belia Hockey Stadium in Kuantan.
The World 11th-ranked Koreans warmed up to the occasion with field goals from Lee Jungun (1st), Kim Hyeongjin (15th) and Kim Juhun (38th) and penalty corners via Kim Seongkyu (3rd) and Yang Jiyun (20th) as Paul Lissek’s men grabbed a 5-2 lead by the end of the third quarter.
China replied through Yu Xin (6th), a penalty stroke from Meng Lei (43rd) and E-Wenhui’s field goal in the only match played today. The Koreans had six penalty corners and converted two while Japan earned one.
The Koreans, with six goals to their credit in three games, are moving ahead in this ACT, scoring an average of two goals per match, On the other hand, they are also one of the best teams in defence – conceding just four goals in three matches.
In penalty corners, the Koreans have conceded just one goal out of the seven they have had to defend and that too came in the 60th minute against Pakistan when Abdul Khan converted two give the two-time champions the much needed face-saving victory.
Korea started its campaign here with a 1-1 draw against India and lost 0-1 to defending champions Pakistan.
China, who is in the process of re-building the side, has arrived in Kuantan by finishing top in the World League Round 1 in Singapore in April this year. They have surprise their opponents especially Japan following a 2-1 win and went down 1-5 against Malaysia, but today’s match against the Koreans could have gone either way had their forwards succeeded in the many chances that came their way especially in the fourth quarter.
Though happy with the final result against China which has catapulted the Koreans to third in the table standings with four points – five behind leaders and hosts Malaysia with India second position on seven and Pakistan moving down to fourth (3) and China in fifth spot (3), Korean head coach Paul Lissek is nevertheless disappointed with the overall performance of players.
“The players did just too many mistakes and it could have cost us victory. The match could have also ended in a 5-5 draw. We have two matches remaining and that is against Japan (Oct 26) and the last tough encounter against Malaysia on Oct 27. It will be very tight matches and we need to pull through to qualify for the semi-finals but it won’t be easy against Malaysia who are playing very well and organised throughout the last three matches,” added the German. “The Malaysians have played in many international matches including competing in the Australia League.
“This is a young team and playing in its first international tournament. They need to play many more matches and learn,” added the German.
China’s head coach, Yi Song, however, credited his young and inexperienced players whose average age is 22, for giving Korea, ranked World No 11, a run for their money today.
“It was a good match and I am very excited with the way the players managed against Korea. They (Koreans) are ranked World No 11 and we are just at No 18. We had opened up the Korean defence in the last five minutes and came close to narrowing the gap,” said Yi Song.
“This kind of performance is good for the team and they must learn from this experience. We have two tough matches remaining – against India tomorrow (Tuesday) and Pakistan on Thursday. The players must keep their calm and emotions against these two hockey powerhouses,” he added.
Defending champion Pakistan and 2011 winners India return to the stadium on Tuesday.
The Pakistanis go into a must-win match against Japan to enhance their chances of reaching the semi-finals while India entertains China in what hockey fans from both nations have high expectations of victories.
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