Korea and England win opening World Cup ties
England and South Korea won their opening Pool B games in the 10th Hockey World Cup on Sunday, defeating Poland and Cuba respectively as results went to form.
England were forced to battle hard for a 1-0 victory, while the Koreans were given a scare before cruising to a 6-2 win.
Despite both games starting before 9.00 a.m. (0100 GMT) to avoid the full heat of the day, temperatures were already soaring as Korean penalty corner ace Yoe Wood-Kon scored the first goal of the competition after only nine minutes.
Any ideas his side would have it easy against World Cup debutants Cuba didn't last long as two goals in a minute rocked the Asian Champions just 10 minutes later.
Open play goals from Alexander Abreu and Jose Rodrigues put the Pan American champions into a lead they held until the 41st minute.
But Korea's class and experience took over as Cuba began to wilt and goals from open play through Yoo Moon-Ki and Song Seung-Tae in the 41st and 44th minutes returned their side to a lead they never looked like losing.
Shin Seok-Kyo's penalty corner conversion after 54 minutes and field goals from Kang Keon-Wookas and Yoon Sung-Hoon in the 63rd and 67th minutes sealed the result for Korea.
England's progress was less spectacular, with the game running to the second half before the team put their only goal past a patient Polish side.
Dave Mathews scored from a penalty corner on 54 minutes after a series of chances were missed by attackers or saved by Polish goalkeeper Mariusz Chyla.
England had to play out the final 10 minutes with 10 men as the Poles pressed for an equaliser after defender Jon Wyatt was sin-binned for a bad tackle.
Sixteen teams in two pools of eight will play each other to decide which four nations contest the semi-finals on March 7.
The final is scheduled for March 9 at the 18,000-seater National Hockey Stadium, 15 km south (nine miles) of the Malaysian capital.
Later on Sunday afternoon, following an official opening ceremony performed by Sultan Azlan Shah, president of the Malaysian Hockey Federation, Pakistan play South Africa and Belgium meet Spain to open the Pool A matches.
Completing the day's Pool A games will be Germany versus Argentina and the Dutch against New Zealand.
Finally, Japan are due to meet India on Sunday evening, as hosts Malaysia play Australia, to wrap up Pool B's opening fixtures.
Mail Sports Editor