Too easy for Koreans; Japan unconvincing in 4-1 win
India's campaign in the women's hockey competition at the Asian Games began on a sober note with a performance that neither touched the heart nor the edges of professionalism.
Prosaic for the major part and needlessly ponderous, the team managed a 4-0 win to take full points against Malaysia, after displaying a speck of verve in the second half. A good measure of India's problems stemmed from the poor harmony exhibited by the frontline. If the exchanges still swung in its favour, it was mainly due to the work in midfield by Jasjeet Handa and Subadra Pradhan.
More credit should go to Subadra for the endless attempts to keep the frontline in the attacking zone. However, India snatched a field goal late in the first half. Rani Ramphal ambled in beating two defenders for Chanchan to give the finishing touches. The lead enlarged early in the second half when Deepika Thakur capped a combined move.
But the best effort of the evening came from the lanky Rani. Meeting a cross from the right, Rani side-stepped the advancing goalkeeper to send the ball crashing into the boards and this was followed by a superb effort by Surinder Kaur.
The Malaysians were unrelenting. In fact, there were patches when they secured command in the rival zone. Silin Fazila caused some trouble but lacked the support to take on the Indian defenders.
Even though the result has a ring of comfort, Japan, silver medallist at the last edition, was unusually sluggish against Kazakhstan in the opening match. The fluency that one expected of a combination boasting the presence of stars like Kaori Chiba and Yukari Yamamoto was invisible.
The Kazakh squad, which reached this city only on Friday morning showed no signs of strain. What more, the team launched furious raids late in the match to pluck a goal in the final minutes, and threatened to score one more.
Thailand surprised many by restricting the formidable Koreans to a 5-0 margin after holding them to 1-0 lead in the first half.
“The Thais were, quite understandably, elated that the result was not the two-digit one it used to be. The team prepared for more than a year and we are happy with the result,” observed the manager, Ms. Nurmon Siriwat.
The credit for this verdict should go to goalkeeper Tongsun Jesdaporn whose courageous saves rendered the spate of penalty corners that the Koreans forged ineffective to some extent.
The defenders overall were stubborn, offering a tough challenge.
Only Park Mihuyn, who scored two goals, was able to break the defenders. It must also be admitted that the Koreans were a wee bit unlucky; at least three shots from penalty corners crashed against the bar.