As the South Korean coach, the legendary German, Paul Lissek moved out after the post-match press conference following his side's clash against India, he stopped his opposition counterpart Roelant Oltmans and said, “Don’t worry, you are the No 1 team.”
Lissek did mean it even though India had to battle for a 1-1 draw against a Korean side that managed their pockets of influence in the match very well. In fact, after India’s initial foray which should have seen them go a goal up, Korea took hold of the midfield and stretched the Indian defence, which was ragged except when it came to stopping the penalty corners. It was sort of a dampener for the Indians coming after the massive 10-2 victory against the Japanese.
South Korea opened the scoring in the 11th minute through Jungwoo Jeong, while India equalized in the 33rd.
At the post-match conference, Lissek was relieved that Korea got away easy against India. “I think India has simply made huge strides in the game and I believe they are the team to beat in this tournament. They have excellent players and we had to play a highly tactical game to keep them under control.”
“In fact, they were very friendly today and we tried to make use of that but they were very compact in the defence and effectively blocked us in the four penalty corners that we had,” said Lissek.
Oltmans was clear cut in his assessment. “It was tough out there and I did expect Korea to come out strongly after their loss to Pakistan in their first game. But I am not worried and I know my team will play the semi-finals. Though I don’t agree with the format as the top two teams should play the final and the third (and) fourth should go for the bronze.”
India started strongly, the midfield and the forwards moving smoothly, making early inroads into the Korean striking circle. Sardar, captaining the side for the match, moved the ball around very well, though in the third and fourth quarter, he did fade out. It was Talwinder who came close after a lovely move from the left flank but both his shots were brilliantly saved by Korean Dong Doopyo.
Affan Yousuf kept up the tempo, with a lovely dodge and a fine bit of stick work but was cleared out by the Korean defence. At this moment in the match, India was holding the ball in the midfield, not letting in the South Koreans.
The first error came from the slightly jittery Jasjit Singh Kular who saw his back pass to Rupinder Pal Singh not carry and in raced Inwoo Seo, but to Sreejesh’s relief the shot was wild and wide off the goal.
It was again an error in the Indian defence that gave the Koreans the opportunity. Six-goal hero against Japan, Rupinder’s pass to Talwinder was cut off by the Koreans, and scored through Junwoo Jeong in the counter. Korea took the lead in the 11th minute, and maintained it till the end of the first quarter.
The second quarter was more of a tactical battle though Rupinder had a penalty corner which was saved by the Korean goalkeeper. But the pressure from the flanks paid off at the start of the third, as Lalit Upadhyay showed the skills that he has always promised but not delivered. It was super work in the circle as Lalit turned brilliantly to let loose a reverse shot that zipped past the Korean goalkeeper for the equaliser. At 1-1, the match was on.
Korea earned two penalty corners in the third quarter but the shots went wide.
On the other side, Sreejesh saved the situation when Taeil Hwang cut into the circle and almost flicked it home but the Indian goalkeeper cut the angle.
India almost had the winner in the final 15 minutes, but a brilliant deflection by Chinglensana was saved superbly by the Korean goalkeeper. Two penalty corners came Korea’s way but the Indian runners deflected it away.
Speaking on Pakistan’s match on Sunday, Oltmans said, “I know the country wants a win. But the team has no pressure. It’s just another game for us. But, yes, we will do our best. The boys know what to do.”
Updated Date: Oct 22, 2016 21:09:46 IST