India overwhelms Iran

KUALA LUMPUR, MAY 8. India overwhelmed Iran, battering the opponent's defence to win by a whopping margin of 22-0 in a Group B tie of the fourth Junior men's Asia Cup hockey at the Bukit Jalil Stadium today.

The Iranians, who had conceded 33 goals in three matches prior to this massacre, might have expected some mercy from the Indians who had virtually qualified for the semifinals.

India rested two of its best players, Lazarus Barla and Deepak Thakur but the 8-0 margin at half time showed the shape of things to come for Iran.

Once India got into the scoring mode, there was no stopping its players, especially young Prabjot Singh who bagged a double hat- trick.

Len Ayappa, Bikramjit Singh and Ajit Singh Gagan all performed hat-tricks while Inderjit Singh got himself a brace.

Other Indian scorers were Shamsuz Zoha, Arjun Halappa, Bimal Lakra, Kanwalpreet Singh and Paramjit Singh.

The Iranians, who made their debut on the astro turf irst time during this tournament, were flummoxed by the cosnsitency and craft of the Indian attack.

With this verdict, India can even afford to lose, which is highly unlikely, its last match against Uzbekistan safe in the knowledge that the other teams cannot accumulate as many points.

After four matches, India has a maximum of 12 points while Bangladesh and Japan both have seven from the same number of games.

India's is the first team to book its place in the semifinals. Korea, Pakistan and Malaysia are fighting for the two semifinals slot from Group A while Bangladesh and Japan will have to play a numbers game in goal difference to determine the other qualifier from Group B.

Bangladesh and Japan figured in a goal-less draw.

Malaysia routs Singapore

Malaysia moved into second place in Group A when it defeated Singapore 9-0.

Malaysia now has seven points from three matches, the same as South Korea but the latter has a better goal difference. Three- time champion Pakistan has six points but with a game in hand.

Malaysia could have stolen top spot from South Korea but the forwards were a total washout as they missed more chances then they converted.

The Malaysians only managed to convert four penalty corners from the 21 awarded to them. If only the host had the clinical finishers from India, they would have had one foot in the semifinals.

Instead they had to be content with just nine goals today. It looks like they would need to defeat Pakistan on Wednesday or hope the latter whacks the daylights out of South Korea - something not beyond the realms of reality.

Chua Boon Huat, who rescued a point for Malaysia when he scored both comeback goals in a 2-2 draw against Korea, grabbed a first half hat-trick with goals in the 6th, 14th and 24th minutes. He added two more in the 37th and 43rd minutes to take his tally to nine.

He is now the joint top scorer along with India's Gagan Ajit Singh. Norazlan Rahim put his name on the scoresheet when he knocked home a rebound in the 16th and 38th minutes. Skipper Keevan Raj (55th) and Mohd Fairuz Ramli (57th) were the other scorers.

Bangladesh draws with Japan

Bangladesh failed to capitalise on a below par performance by Japan in a crucial Group B match. Both played a drab scoreless draw which means that the second qualifier for the semifinals from the group will only be determined on Wednesday after Japan plays Uzbekistan.

Both Japan and Bangladesh have seven points from four matches while India has nine from three matches.

The advantage will be with the Japanese who now lie third because of an inferior goal difference (-7) to Bangladesh but their last match is against whipping boys Uzbekistan on Wednesday while Bangladesh face a hard running China tomorrow.

Bangladesh was promise in attack while the Japanese appeared to have not recovered from the 2-9 reverse against India on Saturday.

The Japanese were inconsistent and were just content to defend. This suited the Bangladeshis who knew a win would have assured them a place in the last four. Unfortunately, their strikers left their shooting sticks at home.

Chinese women in semifinals

KUALA LUMPUR, MAY 8. China clinched the third semifinals spot of the Junior Women's Asia Cup with ease, defeating Uzbekistan 10-0 at the KL Hockey Stadium today.

It was the second victory in the tournament for the Chinese who seemed to have settled down compared to their first game against hosts Malaysia.

China started the rampage in the third minute when He Hai Ying collected an easy pass from the midfield to shoot past Uzbekistan goalkeeper Nadiya Akhtyamova.

Hou Xia Olan who converted a penalty corner in the 10th minute before Zhou Wan Feng and Mai Shao Yan added two field goals in the 27th and 29th minutes.

Hai Ying scored again a minute upon restart, while Huo collected her hatrick when she put the ball in the net in the 42nd and 69t minutes.

The other Chinese goals in the second half were scored by Gao Li Hua in the 51st minute, Wan Feng (57th) and Shao Yan (58th).

Chinese team manager Yao Su Jie was pleased with the team's performance, adding that the players were more composed when they executed their attack unlike the first match against Malaysia.

``I hope they can maintain the same standard of play against Korea,'' he said.

China plays the Korea in the final group match to decide Group A champion.

Korea clinches semifinal berth

Korea thrashed Malaysia 6-0 to clinch the final spot in the semifinals.

The win consolidates Korea's position at the top of Group A going into the final match against China tomorrow.

Korea played a very tactical game to draw the Malaysians out before going in for the kill.

If it was not for some fine goalkeeping by Siti Azura Yusof, the score-line could have hit double digits.

The Koreans who were cheered on by their men's team opened scoring in the third minute when Kim Seo-hee converted a penalty corner.

They scored their second through another penalty corner conversion by Hang Sung-mi in the 15th minute. Kang Bo- yang scored number three in the 27th minute and Cho Bo-ra added the fourth in the 31st.

A Malaysian defensive error in the dying seconds of the half was punished by Bang Ji-hyun who sounded the board for the fifth goal.

The second half saw the Malaysians playing a defensive game to keep the scoreline low. Some desperate defending resulted in them conceding a penalty stroke in the 54th minute which was converted by Kim Yun-mi.

The Koreans eased up a bit after that, probably conserving energy for the final group match against China tomorrow.

With the win, Korea will only have to draw against China in their final group match to top group A.

India's Paramjit Singh (left) tries to beat Iran's Majid Khalaji in a Group B match of the men's Junior Asia Cup hockey tournament in Kuala Lumpur on Monday. India thrashed Iran 22-0.

- Reuters