A defensive lapse cost India dear as it went down 1-2 to South Korea and suffered its second consecutive defeat in the Sultan Azlan Shah hockey tournament here on Sunday.
After the spirited fight in the 3-4 defeat against the Australians, much was expected from the Indians but they disappointed and were completely outplayed by the Koreans who led 1-0 through Kang Moon Kweon’s goal in the first half.
The Indians, however, regrouped in the second session and found the equaliser in the 39th minute with Malak Singh finding the target.
The goal spurred the young Indians, as they kept the Korean defence busy with numerous raids but conceded a goal due to a lapse in concentration.
Kweon scored his second goal of the match 10 minutes before the hooter, via a deflection off a long hit from outside the 25 yard area, as three Indian defenders were caught napping.
The Indians will now find it difficult to qualify for the final in the six-team tournament as only the top two teams from the round-robin league will figure in the summit clash.
In the first half, India sat deep and looked for chances in counter-attack but failed to get any. Michael Nobbs’ boys could not get a single shot on target in the first session.
As the match wore on, the nippy Koreans took control of the game, earning five penalty corners in the opening session as against none by the Indians.
Goalkeeper P. Sreejesh continued his superb form and made quite a few stunning saves.
Malaysia stuns NZ
Malaysia pumped home two early goals in the second half to pip defending champion New Zealand 2-1 and stay in hunt for a final berth.
Chua Boon Huat did the star turn with an opportunistic goal, scooping the ball high into the net past the flummoxed goalkeeper Devon Manchester.
It was a brilliant move which started on the left flank through Md Jalil Marhan who dribbled past the Kiwi defenders before releasing a minus pass into the circle. Boon Huat pulled the ball out from a crowded defence and chipped into the net.
That 41st minute strike was complemented by another piece of opportunism from Md. Shahrun Nabil three minutes later. A long ball into the circle saw Tengku Ahmad Tajudin deflect it from the top of the circle and the ball touched a defender’s stick before going in.
The twin strikes put the Kiwis on the back foot.
The team, however, came back with a penalty corner goal in the 68th minute when Shay Neal deflected home an indirect variation from the right side to reduce the margin.
Australia hits Pakistan for a six
In the day’s first match, Australia brightened its chances of making the final by crushing Pakistan 6-0 and registering its second successive win.
Australia proved too hot for Pakistan to handle, as the world champion scored through Daniel Mirecki (eighth minute), Matt Gohdes (ninth), Jacob Whetton (19th and 34th minutes) in the first half.
In the second, two penalty corner conversions by Daniel Beale and Nicholas Budgeon in the 45th and 60th minutes sealed Pakistan’s fate.
After a day’s rest, India will take on Pakistan while Malaysia meets Australia and New Zealand will lock horns with Korea.
Australia 6 (Daniel Mirecki 8, Matt Gohdes 9, Jacob Whetton 17 & 34, Daniel Beale 45, Nick Budgeon 61) bt Pakistan 0.
South Korea 2 (Kang Moon-Kweon 29, 60) bt India 1 (Malak Singh 39).
Malaysia 2 (Chua Boon Huat 40, Ahmad Tajuddin Jalil 44) bt New Zealand 1 (Shay Neal 65).