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September 21, 2000

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Kim teaches his teachers a lesson

Jaideep Singh in Sydney

South Korean hockey coach Kim Sang-Ryul says he learnt the rudiments of modern hockey tactics in India, and that it was good to be able to prove his ability, to his erstwhile instructors at Patialaís National Institute of Sports (NIS).

"I took my coaching classes in the NIS at Patiala, and learnt hockey tactics from my guru Balkishen Singh," said a beaming Kim Sang-Ryul shortly after the team he coaches taught the Indians a hockey lesson or three.

"Balkishen was my first instructor, and he set me on the path of acquiring knowledge of hockey strategies," said Kim.

The win by the Koreans maintains their streak over India. In 1998, at Bangkok, India prevailed in penalty strokes to clinch the gold. Since then, the two teams have met thrice, and South Korea has won on each occasion.

Kim smiles at the thought. "India has not been very consistent, but their current team is playing some good hockey," Kim said. "But," he adds, in mild admonishment, "You have to change tactics for every match.

"I try to adopt varying tactics for every encounter -- today Iím pleased with my boys keeping the Indian strikers tightly marked, and not allowing them to break free.

"Iím obviously delighted to force a win over India, now we stay in the race for a semifinal spot, which is something we haven't done before."

Talking of the tactical aspects of this game, Kim says, "I knew this game was not going to be like the India-Australia match. That was an open game, both teams played an open style of hockey. They both like to attack. One has to be careful playing either of the two subcontinental teams, you can't allow them to play their natural attacking style."

Thus, Kim ordered his players to use tight marking, and crowding, to blunt the Indian attack. "If the trio of Dhanraj Pillay, Mukesh Kumar and Baljit Singh Dhillon get going, you need something special to stop them," he said. "That we managed to stop them wasnít by chance. We worked hard at that.

"We concentrated on taking charge in the midfield, to prevent Indians from getting the space to launch counter-attacks. We succeeded, they failed," Kim smiles.

Kim is all praise for his star striker, Song Seung-Tae, who during the build up to the Olympics broke his collarbone and took nine weeks to recover. "He was handicapped by the injury in the earlier matches, but today he played very well," Kim says. "Heís a very good scorer if he gets a chance."

Related stories:
Korea beats India 2-0
A lesson in the modern game: Cedric
Indians refuse to rise, fail to shine
Play of the day

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