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India thrashed by Korea
May 31, 2005 20:30 IST
Last Updated: May 31, 2005 22:16 IST
India's chances of a podium finish virtually evaporated on Tuesday after they were steamrolled by South Korea 4-1 in the Azlan Shah Cup hockey tournament in Kuala Lumpur on Tuesday.
Though the current Asian Games champions dominated the proceedings, India were lucky to go into the break at 1-1 despite conceding the tournament's first penalty stroke.
In an earlier match, Olympic champions Australia rode on their luck to hold a fired up Pakistan 2-2 in a thrilling contest at the Bukit Jalil stadium in Kuala Lumpur.
After surviving the Korean onslaught in the early part of the match, India took the lead through Len Aiyappa. But the Koreans bounced back with a first-half equaliser and then struck thrice in six minutes after the break to take full points.
Korea, who earned five penalty-corners in the first 15 minutes of the match but failed to benefit from them, leveled the score through Kim Kyung Seuk. They also missed the penalty-stroke they got in the first half.
The Korean attack lacked the sharpness of their earlier outings in the tournament as many unforced errors were committed against the tentative and toothless Indians.
Korea, who were humbled handsomely by India in their last outing at the Athens Olympics, forced seven penalty-corners in the match as against two by the Indians.
The Indian attacks were slim and slender and once again their forwards had no fluency and flow. Even left winger Prabhjot Singh looked pale and jaded, while Arjun Halappa, Deepak Thakur and Sandeep Michael appeared to have left their prowess at home.
The Indians could not plug the midfield gaps leaving huge spaces for the Koreans to manoeuvre their path without much hindrance inside the 25-yard area.
However, the Koreans could not take the lead, despite their superiority as their marksmen Jong Hyun Jang, Sung Hoon Yoon and Kyung Seok Kim were off target.
India's goal came from their first penalty-corner, awarded after a rare move was orchestrated by winger Rajpal Singh.
The Chandigarh Dynamos player set up Thakur, who was obstructed by Korean skipper Hyung Bae Han. Len Aiyappa drag-flicked in style in the 20th minute.
Stunned by this surprise reversal, Korea propelled their onslaughts to draw level and won a penalty-stroke after goalkeeper Devesh Chauhan was penalised for stick checking Sung Hoon Yoon.
But to the Koreans' disappointment, Kyung Seok Kim struck the side bar.
Korea, however, got the equaliser at the stroke of half time when Kyung Seok Kim made amends for the early mistake and flicked home a rebound from their sixth penalty-corner.
After the breather, the Koreans, with recharged batteries, stole the thunder in a three-goal blitz. Twenty-three-year old penalty-corner specialist Seong Jung Kang put his side ahead with a high drag-flick in the 43rd minute.
Thereafter there was no stopping the champions of 1996 as the Indian defence caved in tamely.
Korea increased their tally further in the 47th minute through another penalty-corner conversion by Seong Jung Kang before armyman Hyo Sik You put the issue beyond doubt, netting an excellent field attempt in tandem with Eun Seong Hong two minutes later for an impressive scoreline.
After four outings India have as many points, while Korea climbed to the third slot with seven points.
Tomorrow India will clash with arch-rivals Pakistan.