Korea surprises Netherlands

S. Thyagarajan

AMSTERDAM: : If unpredictability is the only predictability in sport, then it emerged with a stunning impact when Korea lowered the colours of the Netherlands by the odd goal in three in front of large home crowd at the Wagener Stadium on Wednesday night. A rare defeat though it was for the Dutch, the humiliation was complete and comprehensive.

So incisive and ingenuous were the Koreans on this night and that many wondering how the team capitulated in the manner it did against the Aussies (1-7) the other day. A commendable amalgam of speed, skill and system laid the famed Dutch defence low, almost throughout the contest.

The Koreans were nippy, nifty and, what more, accurate. The backhander that Yoon Sung Hoon struck for the match winner midway in the second half was a stunner that left the entire audience gasping. Its velocity, angle and the trajectory flummoxed the seasoned Guus Vogels under the bar.

Even assuming that the Roelant Oltman's team is more focussed on the forthcoming European Cup at Leipzig starting in the last week of this month, the performance so far in the two matches indicated clearly there are quite a few frailties. Minus the indefatigable Teun de Nooijer, the rest of the frontline did not show itself as sharp. The yellow cards for Taeke Takema in successive matches to an extent demoralised the Dutch, but clearly the team was out of tune in the two matches.

When Korea's Jung Seon Lee hit in a penalty corner in the first half, it looked an aberration of sorts. For, not long after resumption Roderick Weusthof equalled with a penalty corner drive. Admittedly, the Dutch were a wee bit unlucky in that a fierce shot by Taekama hit the cross piece when the team was attacking with all its vigour in the last quarter. But one must concede that the Korean goal-keeper Dong Sik was in his elements effecting a few a spectacular saves.

At the end of the day it was clear that Holland has to settle for a place between 5-6. Also confirmed was the entry of Australia into the final regardless of the result, unless it goes down to the Dutch tomorrow by a clear dozen goals. Korea with six points will figure in the bronze medal match.

In Pool A, Spain is ahead with four points followed by Germany (3), Pakistan (1) and India (0).

With another convincing display, Australia downed England 6-2 and enhanced its chances of figuring in Sunday's final. Wednesday's result: Australia 6 (Matthew Wells, Jaime Dwyer, Grant Schubert, Ben Bishop, Luke Doerner, Matthew Naylor) bt England 2 (Richard Alexander, Rob Moore). HT 1-0.

Friday's matches: Germany v Pakistan (8-30 p.m. IST); Netherlands v Australia (11-30 p.m.).