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China and Korea involved in a thrilling tie, door still open for both

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SEIZING THE OPPORTUNITY: Lee Myung Ho of Korea scoring his team’s first goal in the match against China.
SEIZING THE OPPORTUNITY: Lee Myung Ho of Korea scoring his team’s first goal in the match against China.

S. Thyagarajan

Tajuddin helps Malaysia share honours with Pakistan; Sri Lanka trounces Thailand

Chennai: Identifying the qualifiers for the semifinals got enmeshed in complexity after Korea and China were locked in a thrilling 3-3 draw, while Malaysia recovered from a 0-3 deficit to draw 3-3 with Pakistan in the BSNL-Asia Cup here on Wednesday.

The eventful day also saw Thailand scoring a goal against Sri Lanka.

Malaysia confirmed its place with another emphatic display, especially in the second half, to push Pakistan virtually out of the semifinal race. The hero was Tajuddin who scored twice, while Megat Azrafiq converted a stroke in the final minute.

Tops table

Malaysia finished its programme with 10 points to top the table in Pool A. Pakistan too completed its engagements with seven points, while Japan, with six points, has a match remaining against Singapore. Only a miracle — Singapore beating Japan — can save Pakistan.

In Pool B, while India has qualified, the second place will be decided between Korea and China who play Bangladesh and Sri Lanka respectively. Both teams have seven points with Korea having a goal difference of 25 to China’s 18.

That Pakistan was determined to make the best of the situation was evident from the urgency displayed by the frontline right from push-off. Shakeel Abbasi led the attack with gusto scoring two goals, while Akhtar Ali contributed one more before half-time.

Changing over with a 3-0 advantage, Pakistan failed to keep up the tempo. The Malaysians were more aggressive and stretched the rival defence. When Tajuddin struck, there were spontaneous cheers. He slammed home again to reduce Pakistan’s margin before Azrafiq helped Malaysia secure a draw.

Exciting encounter

In a contest which was full of excitement and exemplified the never-say-die spirit of the Chinese, the Koreans had the mortification of sharing six goals to keep the door open for both teams. That China slotted the equaliser after regulation time through a penalty corner showed their fighting qualities.

The teams were level at half-time with a goal each. And midway through the second half, the Koreans — advancing through fluent moves and dominating the exchanges — built up a 3-1 lead through a perfect penalty corner taken by Jang Jong Hyun, followed by a goal from Kang Seong Jung.

Slowly but steadily, the Chinese took the initiative when Le Wei sounded the boards. Even then, things were rolling well for the Koreans who frittered away a few chances. In the dying minutes, the second penalty corner for China surfaced. The hooter went off when umpire Faithal Hussain signalled it. Amidst mounting tension, Lu Feng slammed in the equaliser.

Workshop for officials

A clinic-cum-workshop to train technical officials for the next Commonwealth Games to be held in New Delhi in 2010 began here on Wednesday morning.

The two-day meeting, conducted by the International hockey umpire and member of the AHF and IHF Umpiring Committee, Ku Ku Walia, will discuss the duties and responsibilities of the TDs, umpiring with video presentation and lectures by Billy Dhillon of Hong Kong and Brian Fernandez of Malaysia and a talk by Bob Davidzon, Project Co-ordinator from FIH.

The course co-ordinator is Md. Muneer, international umpire.

Among the spectators at the venue was Tan Sri P. Alagendra, Secretary-General, Asian Hockey Federation.

Alagendra is here in connection with the Council meeting of the AHF scheduled on September 8.

The Council should have met at Muscat during the AHF Juniors tournament, which had to be postponed in the wake of the cyclone that caused havoc in Oman.

Significant among the meetings is that of the competitions committee which is engaged in drawing up the programme for next year.

The results:

Pool A: Pakistan 3 (Shakeel Abbasi 2, Akhtar Ali) drew with Malaysia 3 (Tajuddin 2, Megat Ashrafiq); HT 3-0; Player of the match: Tajuddin.

Pool B: Sri Lanka 9 (Gazally 2, Anju Hewage 2, Hettiarachichi 2, Karunaratne, Pradeep Priyashantha, Abeyratne) beat Thailand 1 (Sadkorn Wimuttan); HT 4-0; Player of the match: Gazally.

Korea 3 (Lee Myung Ho, Jang Jong Hyun, Kang Seong Jung) drew with China 3 (Meng Lizhi, Li Wei, Luo Fang); HT: 1-1; Player of the match: Seo Jong Ho.

Thursday’s matches: Japan v Singapore (3 p.m.); China v Sri Lanka (4 p.m., pitch 2); Korea v Bangladesh (5 p.m.); India v Thailand (7 p.m.).

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