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 March 1, 2002 | 1930 IST
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Korea maintain unbeaten run

Sydney Olympics silver medallists Korea staved off a strong fightback from hosts Malaysia to win 3-2 and stay on course for a semi-final berth in Pool B in the men's hockey World Cup.

It was the fourth straight victory for the Koreans but they had to rest content with the second spot in the pool as Australia went on top with a better goal difference after beating Cuba 6-0.

Back by vociferous home crowd of around 14,000, the Malaysians started well and matched the Koreans for the first quarter, but two quick field goals by Kim Kyung-seok (16th minute) and Lee Jung-seon (21st minute) put them on the back foot.

Though Kuhan Shanmuganathan pulled one back for thm with a neat penalty-corner drag flick, from their second penalty-corner in the 23rd minute, the Koreans' possession play and all round skills were hard to cope with.

Malaysia's goal came when Korea were reduced to ten men, after Kim Chul was sent off. But the advantage in the numbers did not last long as K Gobinathan was given similar treatment by the umpire for a dangerous tackle on Song Seung-tae, who had broken into the circle in the 29th minute. Korea scored from the resultant penalty-corner through Yeo Woon-kon to cross over up 3-1.

Down 1-3, the Malaysians made a brave charge in the second session with clever use of the long ball to draw out the Korean defenders. They managed to splinter through on one occassion and forced a penalty-corner, their fourth. To the joy of the partisan supports Kuhan Shanmuganathan was again on target - 2-3.

The Koreans then exercised caution, preferring to hold the ball with short passes and deny the Malaysians possession.

Japan rally to down Poland

In the earlier match in Pool B, Japan came from behind to get the better of Poland by the odd goal in three.

After a goalless first half, the Japanese struck twice in the last seven minutes to post their first victory in the tournament.

Trailing 0-1 with just seven minutes remaining, Naohiko Tobita leveled the score from a penalty stroke before compatriot Kenichi Katayama struck seconds from the hooter.

Earlier, Artur Mikula gave Poland the lead ten minutes into the second session.

The victory elevates Japan to fifth place in the pool ahead of Poland, India and Cuba.

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