In a big semi-final at the Asian Hockey Champions Trophy, India will look to continue its tremendous run as they take on an interesting South Korean side on Saturday. India topped the round robin stage and remained unbeaten with 13 points. In the fine matches played, India has scored a whopping 25 goals and conceded only six. India, currently at rank six in the world, dropped points only against South Korea itself, during the round robin stage. That one will be hovering over the minds of Indian players as they walk into Wisma Belia Hockey Stadium. The match will be shown on the Star Sports network and begins at 3.45 pm IST. World number 11, have scored 11 goals in the competition so far which is the second lowest of any team in the competition and the lowest of any of the semi-finalists.
South Korea in comparison finished fourth in the group stages, after conceding a last-minute goal to Malaysia in their final game. In the earlier match between the two teams, however, former Asian champions South Korea showed a lot of quality. They scored against an over-confident India, whose defence was playing high. After they conceded the equaliser and India mounted a barrage of attacks, the South Koreans defended strongly. Fully aware of the task his team awaits, India chief coach Roelant Oltmans told ANI, “Korea have an extremely well-drilled and organised defensive structure, and they rely on that in their games. We already have experience of seeing how suffocating their play can be, and it is a challenge for us.” He added, “We will have to be more clinical in the final third against them and have shown that we can be so in our games so far. It should be a good encounter.”
Indian captain P.R. Sreejesh will be making a comeback near the goal post after his ankle injury forces him to miss the last two round-robin games. Drag-flick expert Rupinder Pal Singh has been in an unbelievable form. Singh has scored 10 goals in the tournament, so far, as the set piece specialist from Punjab has been a tough player to face the opponents. When it comes to defence, Singh will be very crucial with his pairing with Birendra Lakra and Kothajit Singh tested against the underdog Koreans. Paul Lissek, the German coach of the South Korean side, told PTI, “We’ve been consistent throughout the tournament, but were unlucky not to have scored more goals. We’re looking forward to taking on India. We played a fine game against them in the league fixture.”
India 5-4 Sreejesh saves!!! INDIA WIN!!!
India 5-4 South Korea
India 4-4 South Korea
India 4-3 South Korea
India 3-3 South Korea
India 3-2 South Korea
India 2-2 South Korea
India 2-1 South Korea
India 1-1 South Korea
India 1-0 South Korea
FULL-TIME 2:2. Penalty shootouts now.
5:14 pm: Sardar shows off his class. Doesn’t hit well but it is good enough for a goal. Score 2-2. India needs to show character now and take a lead.
5:08 pm: India 1-2 South Korea. India’s counter attack foiled. Korea gets a penalty. Scores. GOOOOAAALL!! Korea in lead now.
5:00 pm: It is raining quite bad now. The match may get stopped if this continues.
4:45 pm: India attacking relentlessly. South Korea making long passes and creating good chances in between. None of the teams wants to let this go to the penalty shootouts.
HALF TIME: We’ll be back soon in the second half.
4:29 pm: Three minutes left before half-time. Will there be a change in tactics in the second half?
4:20 pm: India 1-1 South Korea: India’s fault. Opponents level the score.
4:15 pm: Second quarter starts. Excellent passing from India. South Korea sitting deep. Can India score more?
4: 11 pm: India 1-0 South Korea: It’s a GOAAAAAALL!! Talwinder scores a wonderful reverse.