Jakarta (Indonesia), 26 August 2018: Reigning Champions Indian men had to bring out their best against a strong Korea for a stunning win at the 18th Asian Games as they notched up a decisive 5-3 victory over former champions in the fourth Pool A match here on Sunday.
India thus topped the Pool A with a fourth successive victory after winning 17-0 against Indonesia, 26-0 against Hong-Kong China and 8-0 win against Japan in their first three matches. However, India’s penalty corner conversion is still an area of concern with the team missing all the five short-corners earned today.
It was drag-flicker Rupinder Pal Singh (1′), Chinglensana Singh Kangujam (5′), Lalit Upadhyay (16′), Manpreet Singh (49′) and Akashdeep Singh (56′) who contributed to India’s scoreline. For Korea, skipper Manjae Jung (33′, 35′) and Jhongyun Jang (60′) scored reduced the margin.
India began with a bang scoring in the very first minute through a penalty stroke conversion by Rupinder Pal Singh after a Korean defender obstructed a goal-bound ball with his body. And before the end of the first quarter, India forced two penalty corners but Rupinder was off the mark with the Korean first runner sprinting to block the first flick and then the second attempt by the Indian drag-flick specialist was well-saved by the Korean goalkeeper.
However, Rupinder made amends and superbly set-up India’s second goal for vice-captain Chinglensana Singh Kangujam, who with a brilliant deflection in the circle converted the long-pass from the centre of the field to increase the lead to 2-0.
And by the 16th minute, India made it 3-0 with impressive counterattacks and speedy forays that put Korean defence under immense pressure. A long scoop from Simranjeet Singh was received by Lalit Upadhyay who had positioned himself well to send the ball over Korean goalkeeper into the net.
Korea, however, made brave attempts to overcome the initial setback as they created chances to score. In the 24th minute, Korea won two back-to-back PCs but couldn’t make much of the opportunity as India goalkeeper PR Sreejesh and first rusher Manpreet Singh’s efforts respectively ensured India kept a clean sheet.
In the following minute, Amit Rohidas helped win India’s fourth PC of the match but could not convert. Korea immediately launched a quick-fire counterattack, where in just three touches, Koreans landed in their striking circle. But the shot taken was way off the mark.
Korea made a strong start to the third quarter when a long pass into the circle trying to fetch a perfect deflection, unfortunately, hit the cross-bar. But a smart referral saw Korea win a PC. Sreejesh’s block in an attempt to clear the ball was deemed dangerous as it hit Korea striker in the circle. This time Korea used a smart variation which was successfully converted by the team’s skipper Manjae Jung.
Korea tricked India’s defence to score yet another goal through Manjae that narrowed the team’s lead to 2-3. India missed some potential chances to score in the following minutes as forwards Akashdeep Singh and SV Sunil narrowly missed scoring goals in two separate attempts.
The final quarter was tense as Korean defence upped their ante while India pushed for goals. Manpreet Singh struck India’s fourth goal set up by a good interception by Akashdeep. Manpreet was excellent in receiving the ball from Akashdeep and made a quick dribble into the striking circle and took a powerful back-hand shot to beat Korean goalkeeper that helped take India’s lead to 4-2.
A clever pass by Mandeep Singh to Akashdeep saw him convert yet another splendid back-hand shot taking India’s score to a comfortable 5-2.
Meanwhile, India won a PC with a little over four minutes left for the final hooter. A good flick by Rupinder was pushed away by Korean goalkeeper denying India’s fifth attempt at PC. A defensive error saw India concede a PC in the last minute of the match. Korea retook the PC after the ball struck the foot of India’s first rusher. They were awarded yet another PC after it again struck the foot of defender Amit Rohidas. This time Jhongyun Jang was successful in beating Sreejesh to fetch the third goal for Korea.
On 28 August 2018, the Indian Men’s Hockey Team will take on Sri Lanka at 14.30 hours in their last Pool A match.
Indian Goal Scorers: Rupinder Pal Singh (1′), Chinglensana Singh Kangujam (5′), Lalit Upadhyay (16′), Manpreet Singh (49′), Akashdeep Singh (56′)
Korean Goal Scorers: Manjae Jung (two goals in 3rd quarter), Jhongyun Jang (57′)
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