There was goal riot at the Queen Sirikit Stadium here on Thursday with the tally from four matches in the Asia Cup women’s hockey tournament touching the figure 43 goals with the former champion, Korea, taking the honour for recording highest tally of 17, followed by India, which hammered 13 goals after a sluggish first half against Singapore in Pool A.
India led 5-0 at half-time. That this scoring pattern was predictable is some consolation, given the chasm that divides the top four — China, Korea, Japan and India — in the continent.
But what emerged as a surprise packet was the struggle India waged against Singapore in the Pool A encounter. Palpable was the strain in the movements, which was haphazard almost throughout the first half. True, the Indians piled tremendous pressure, 15 penalty corners in the first half is enough testimony to that, but the team was unable come up with a strategy to overcome the crowding in the circle by the Singapore defence.
At some points, all the Indians minus the goal-keeper were in the rival’s goal area looking for goals which came after a good deal of struggle.
Individually, Saba Anujm, Jasjeet Handa and Mamta Kharab were conspicuous but there was little cohesion in their movements. Surinder Kaur, the most celebrated player, ploughed a lonely furrow. Only after resumption did Surinder display her proficiency.
Saba Anjum hit the target early enough from a penalty corner but thereafter the team had to wait for long to enlarge the tally. Even as the Singapore defence began to show signs of fatigue, India escalated pressure and surged into a goal-scoring sequence to add eight more goals in the first.
Coach not pleased
Coach Kaushik was obviously not very pleased with the showing and conceded that the team was needlessly struggling in the first half. “We should have scored more goals,” referring to the 16-0 win the team scored over the same opponent in 2007 in Hong Kong.
While the defending champion, Japan started its programme with an emphatic win, Korea’s Seul Ki Cheon, produced an awesome performance flicking in nine penalty corners against Sri Lanka.
The debutant coach, Kang Keon Wook rates his flick as among the best in the world at this point of time. Korea is all geared up to regain its top ranking in the continent and Kang, who led Korea at the Sydney Olympics, is confident of accomplishing this task.
Before a big crowd of school children waving the flags, the home team, Thailand suffered a 0-3 defeat against Malaysia. The Thai team which has an Aussie coach, Tim Kelly, for the last two weeks, forced Malaysia to fight throughout.
The team manager, Narumon Siriwat, the wife of the President of Thailand Hockey Association, felt the team did not play as well as it did against the same opponent in the SEA Cup matches played recently.
Malaysian coach, Yahya Atan, conceded that the team did not stay focused and wasted too many chances after creating them from well conceived moves.
The results: Pool A: India 13 (Jasjeet Handa 3, Mamta Kharab 2, Saba Anjum 2, Deepika Thakur 2, Ritu Ranphal 2, Surinder Kaur 2) bt Singapore 0; Malaysia 3 (Normarina Ruhani, Faraha Hashim. Juliana Mohammad Din) bt Thailand 0. HT 2-0.
Pool B: Japan 10 (Keiko Miura 2, Mie Nakashima 3, Mazuki Arai 2, Ai Murakruni, Miyuki Nakgawa, Rika Komazawa) bt Kazakhstan 0; HT 4-0; Korea 17 (Seul Ki Cheon 9, Ok Ju Kim, Mihyn Park 3, Jong Eun Kim 2, Soo Kyung Lee, Jung Mi Yoo) bt Sri Lanka 0; HT 9-0.
Friday’s matches: Chinese Taipei v Hong Kong, China (7.30 a.m. IST).