India succumbs to China

Busan Oct. 5. Subjugated by sustained pressure, which mirrored a touch of perfection and systematisation of the Chinese approach, India succumbed to the emergent world power in hockey, in the opening tie of the four-team round robin women's competition in the Asian Games here on Saturday morning.

The outcome clearly portrayed the chasm between the holder of the Champions Trophy, China, and the gold medallist of the last Commonwealth Games, India.

But it was an absorbing encounter where the finesse and firmness of the Indian defence stood pronounced against the persistent probings by the Chinese. That both the goals came from penalty corners, once in each half, from skipper Chen Zhao Xia, from a spate of penalty corners, goes to show the work of the defence which prevented a field goal from being scored.

Goal-keeper Tingoleima Chanu deserves approbation for her excellent work under the bar, padding even withering shots from a few yards in front of the goal.

If only the frontline had matched the good work of the mid-field where Sita Gussien was outstanding, India could have even shared points.

After the initial bursts that really suggested a much closer encounter, the star forwards Mamta Kharab and Jyoti Kullu went into their shell. Pritam Sawach was alone in the attack and slowly faded away as the pressure mounted.

Suraj Lata and Sumeri Tete were prominent in the mid-field as was Amandeep Kaur in the deep defence. The frontline could not continue in the same vein as it had began, troubling the rival defence.

Manjinder Kaur created quite a few openings but they were insufficient and not incisive enough to break the Chinese wall.

Speed and trapping were the essence of Chinese approach. The individual sallies of Tang Chun Ling, Hou Xiao Lan and Fu Bao Rong were a treat to behold. Everyone caused a flutter when on the run. With the Indian attack lacking in persistence, the Chinese defence had a fairly easy time.

The only time the famous Nie Yali was tested was when India forced a penalty corner almost synchronising with the hooter. Sita Gussein's fluent shot prompted a scrimmage in which Pritam Sawach was obstructed.

The Australian umpire, Arnold Michelle, showed no hint of hesitation in showing the spot. Manjinder Kaur flicked neatly, but the ball struck Nie Yali, bounced around, rolled agonisingly near the goal-line and stopped like a mistimed putt before the pin.

Coach Hardial Singh Bhangu acknowledged the verdict, and rightly too, saying that the stoic resistance put up by the defence gave the world class side many an anxious moments in the match.

Marked by fast and crisp exchanges the second match provided interesting fare to the big home crowd.

It was not such a convincing win as one had expected. For, the Japanese proved indefatigable, fighting till the final minute during which they reduced the margin to the narrowest limit.

Prompted well by Lee Seon Ok from the mid-field, the Koreans attacked using winger Park Jeong Sook to exert pressure on the rival defence. Midway through success came Korea's way from a penalty corner. A firm shot by Lee Seon Ok was palmed by goal-keeper Rie Terazono, but from the rebound Kim Eun Jin hit in.

And before half-time Korea increased the margin with Leen Eun Young directing a pass from the right to the roof of the net.

Undaunted by this lead, Japan pulled back in the second half. Within minutes of resumption, Iwao Sachmini found the target. Buoyed by this turn, Japan maintained a firm grip over the proceedings.

Centre forward Chiba Kaori teamed up well with Yuku Ogura to unsettle the rival defence.

Actually, a shot from Naiko Saito hit the sideboards causing panic in Korean defence. But a brilliant penalty corner deflection by Lee Mi Seong had the Koreans celebrating the third goal. That joy proved short lived as Naiko Saito scored the second goal for Japan from the top of the circle.

Selection panels for Asian All Stars teams

The Asian Hockey Federation has named two panels for selecting the men and women Asian All Star teams after the conclusion of the Asian Games here. The men's panel consists of P. Alagendra (Secretary, AHF, Malaysia), Mathavan Devadass (Singapore), Choi Ki Soo (Korea), Sarinder Dhillon (Hong Kong), Fumio Ogura (Japan), K. Jothikumaran (India), Tayyab Ikram (Macau) and Brig. Mussarrat Ullah Khan (Pakistan).

Women: M. Ueda (Japan), Ms. Amrit Bose (India), Ms. Shin Jung Hee (Korea), Ms. Petsuda Chien Thien Thong (Thailand), Sun Chengmin (China), Kim Sang Ryul (Korea), Yang Song Jin (Korea).

Sunday's matches: men: Japan v Hong Kong (6-30 a.m. IST), Malaysia v Pakistan (9 a.m.); Bangladesh v China ( 11-30 a.m.)

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