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India's misery continues

January 14, 2004 19:36 IST
Last Updated: January 14, 2004 19:55 IST

A depleted Indian team's woes continued as it suffered a 2-3 defeat against Korea in a league match of the Azlan Shah Cup hockey tournament in Kuala Lumpur on Wednesday.

Following their fourth defeat in five matches, the Indians are placed at the bottom of the seven-team league with just one point from the draw with Malaysia.

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The Koreans have seven points from five matches.

For a brief moment the Indians appeared to be on top following Len Aiyappa's 17th minute penalty-corner conversion. But then the Koreans swung into action and pumped in three goals to seal the fate of the Indians.

Yoon Young Sik (25th minute) and Yeo Woon Kon (29th, 37th) ensured the Koreans a comfortable ride to their second victory in the tournament though India salvaged some pride with a 64th minute penalty-stroke goal by Arjun Halappa.

The Indians, without their two most experienced forwards -- Dhanraj Pillay (knee injury) and Baljeet Singh Dhillon (fractured nose) -- failed to build on a good start that Aiyappa gave them with the penalty-corner conversion. They had more ball possession early in the match, but were unable to convert the ascendancy into goals despite creating a few openings.

The Koreans launched a couple of typical counter-attacks, but Lee Jung Seon's reverse hit was well-saved by goalkeeper Adrian D'Souza before the same forward saw his attempt from the team's first penalty-corner ricochet off the post.

Thereafter, the Koreans gradually began to dominate the proceedings and penalty-corner goals through Sik and Kon in a four-minute spell saw the Asian Games gold medallists take the breather with a 2-1 lead.

The Korean equaliser had an element of doubt as to its legality. Sik claimed a goal after a quickly taken free-hit, but umpire Juan Manuel Reqena of Spain awarded a 16-yard hit to India. However, after protests by the Korean players, Raqena consulted the other umpire, Stefan Brenner of Germany, and then signalled a goal.

The Indians were up in protest, but the decision stood.

The distraction was enough to unsettle the Indian defence. The Koreans made a few dangerous inroads and forced two penalty-corners in quick succession.

Kon scored from good a rebound to give Korea a 2-1 advantage after goalkeeper D'Souza had blocked Lee Jung Seon's drag-flick.

The Koreans pressed on and within two minutes of the restart knocked in their third goal as Kon unleashed a terrific reverse-hit from top of the circle following Kim Kyung Seok's free-hit to complete a clever set-piece play.

Thereafter, the Koreans maintained pressure and were never really threatened by India whose collective inexperience stood out distinctly.

The Indians were unable to read the Korean game that was marked by swift inter-change of position and ball rotation.

Late in the game, the Indians suddenly sparked to life and a counter-attack led to a stick-check on Sandeep Michael, resulting in a penalty stroke, which Halappa converted.


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