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India to meet Japan in final

Last updated on: February 06, 2004 20:32 IST

India put to rest the ghosts of the last edition's summit clash with a thumping 5-0 victory over defending champions South Korea to enter the final of the fifth women's Asia Cup Hockey tournament in Delhi on Friday.

The Commonwealth Games champions, who had lost to the Koreans on a golden goal after leading the match 2-1 till the last five minutes in the final of the previous edition, dominated their opponents like never before to keep alive their hopes of winning their maiden Asia Cup title.

They now face Japan in the final on Sunday.

Japan thrashed World Championship bronze medallists China 6-2 in a one-sided second semi-final.

The Indians called the shots for the entire 70 minutes of the game against the defending champions and the improvement in their finishing ensured that there were no hiccups in their march towards the summit clash.

Sanggai Chanu (15th, 39th) and Suman Bala (56th, 64th) scored a brace each while Jasjeet Kaur (47th) chipped in with one goal.

It was a cautious start for both India and Korea but as the hosts began to get the measure of their opponents, who had fielded a second string side in the tournament, they opened up from both flanks with Mamata Kharab and Jasjeet Kaur making some probing runs.

Midfielder Masira Surin got the first opportunity to put India ahead in the 14th minute when she intercepted a back pass from Korean defender Eun Sil Kim in the striking circle but failed to beat the goalkeeper.

A minute later, Chanu deflected a free hit from Subhadra Pradhan to give India the lead, which they maintained till half-time.

The second half was an all-India affair with the Koreans having no answer to the aggressive play by the hosts.

Chanu made it 2-0 with yet another deflection off a Pradhan free-hit four minutes into the second half and Jasjeet left the Korean custodian stranded, converting a penalty-stroke to increase the lead eight minutes later.

The stroke was awarded by Malaysian referee Nor Piza Hassan after consulting her counterpart, who had earlier awarded a penalty-corner when Jasjeet was obstructed by Sun Soon Oh in the circle but changed her decision after the players protested.

Suman Bala then got into the act converting the third and fourth penalty-corners that came India's way to ensure an emphatic victory for the hosts.

The Indians were also solid in their defence and their custodian Helen Mary was instrumental in keeping the Koreans at bay during their eight penalty-corners.

India coach M K Kaushik was elated with his team's performance and said the victory was a result of team work.

"We played a very good game today and we will try and continue from where we left in the finals on Sunday," he said.

Later, Japan confirmed their favourites' tag with an emphatic victory over the Chinese.

Centre-forward Sakae Morimoto (49th, 51st) scored a brace while Miura Keiko (4th), Rika Komazawa (17th), Tomomi Komori (55th) and Naoka Saito (63rd) scored one each for the winners while penalty-corner specialist Ma Yibo (42nd, 52nd) sounded the board for the Chinese.

Japan, which has been in great form through out the tournament, once again proved that they are the team to beat for the title.

The Japanese had taken a 2-0 lead by the 17th minute and then were looking to defend the gap, which they successfully managed in the remaining first half itself.

But skipper Yibo gave the Chinese a glimpse of hope for a fight back when she converted a penalty corner in the 42nd minute.

The wake-up call was enough for the Japanese to put their foot on the accelerator to subsequently score another four goals to take the match away from their opponents.

In the other matches, Malaysia thrashed Sri Lanka 4-0 while Kazakhstan defeated Singapore by the same margin.

Malaysia will now face Kazakhstan for the fifth-sixth place play off while Singapore will lock horns with Sri Lanka for the seventh and eight places.

Abhijeet Kulkarni
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