With an empathetic 2-0 win over the defending champion’s Korea, India has started their Asia Cup campaign in a promising manner. With two back to back wins, India tops the pool B for now. India trashed Oman 8-0 in their first match. Sreejesh- The Saviour:
India’s performance rose to the occasion, as the boys dished out a top class hockey against higher ranked Koreans. P. Sreejesh, the Indian Goal Keeper stood like a wall in front of the Indian Goal as he saved as much as 6 penalty corners. This proved to be a truly match saving performance from the seasoned campaigner who was dropped from the squad for his poor performance after the Olympics. P. Sreejesh was rightly awarded the “Man of the Match” for his stellar performance which put the Korean attack at bay. Young Blood’s Strikes: In a match dominated mostly by the Koreans, India’s young guns VR Raghunath and Mandeep Singh scored a goal apiece to take India home. VR Raghunath drew the first blood in the 6th minute of the game, converting their first penalty corner of the match with a powerful dragflick. Mandeep Singh extended the lead in 65th minute as India withstood the heavy raids of the experienced Korean attack. Pak Threat Avoided: India has most probably avoided a match against the arch rivals Pakistan in the semis with the win. Pakistan who also won their 2nd match tops the pool A and will have to probably meet the Koreans in the semis. India will probably take on the Malaysians as these two teams try to earn the ticket to World Cup. Crucial Moments: India started their match strongly as they went all out, putting the pressure on the Korean defense. Ragunath converted the first penalty corner, putting India in an early lead. Korean made quick inroads into the India D as India defense put up a brave fight. Koreans earned five penalties but were able to convert none of them.
The Koreans went on attack right from the beginning of the second half but the Indian defenses were up to the task. India went on all attack mode and put pressure on the Korean defense. India was final able to break the shackles as Mandeep Singh’s shot found the back of the nets. India were 2-0 up by 65th minutes. If not for Sreejesh’s efforts, India could have very well lost the match. The lanky custodian was just unbeatable today as he saved 3 goals in final 10 minutes of the game. Koreans were just unable to beat this man as he pulled out some breath taking saves. India will play Bangladesh in their last pool match on Wednesday, while Korea takes on Oman.