Asian Games Hockey: It's time for India's strikers to show what they're made off

India certainly came out to play, finally. Sardar Singh looked like this was the game to return to play hockey for India, and he did. India are in the final of Asian Games 2014.

It was a very hard-fought semifinal against hosts South Korea, with both sides realising that winning was the only option and it was a great battle, unfortunately the losing team had a lot to lose and a long road now to make the 2016 Rio Olympics. The Indian scraped home 1-0.

Sardar realised that the stakes in this game were very high and no other result would be granted favour by the India hockey public except a win. He came to play and with his enthusiasm, hard work and skills, Sardar led the rest of the team to a very satisfying victory.

Asian Games Hockey: Its time for Indias strikers to show what theyre made off

India vs Pakistan during the group stages in Incheon. AFP

The first half was a battle of midfields and defences. As I said earlier, PR Sreejesh keeping a clean sheet was going to be vital to India's confidence and he did a superb job.

India showed such great enthusiasm to play today against a stubborn but very predictable South Korean team. The hosts persisted in attacking from out wide and this made India's defensive pattern a lot tougher to break down as shown by South Korea having just one field shot for the game as opposed to India's seven.

Akashdeep Singh scored a great field goal with a cheeky flick through the Korean goalkeeper's legs Myungho Lee just one minute before the end of the third 15-minute quarter.

Both teams had roughly equal possession for the first three quarters but both teams failing to really make any impact on scoring shots. India had seven shots on goal and Korea just one for the game. This was testament to India now playing a much tougher defence pattern.

In the last quarter, the Koreans threw everything they had at India but India's defence held firm and now this was enough to propel India into the Asian Games final for the first time in 12 years.

There is, however, still much to be done as India's strike forwards are yet to be seen and need to work much harder to get the ball. They look to just expecting to get the ball rather than work hard to get it. If India are to win this tournament, these young strikers need to start hitting goals and forcing corners.

There are now only two teams left with a chance for an entry card into the 2016 Rio Olympics. The job is not finished for India.

In the other pool, Pakistan and Malaysia played a sensational 6-5 penalty shootout, with hockey gods deciding in favour of an India-Pakistan humdinger for gold on October 2.

It's going to be one of the great games to watch, with so much at stake. Strap yourselves in. This is it!

This column first appeared on IBN Live. Click here to follow their Asian Games coverage.

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Updated Date: Oct 02, 2014 12:00:11 IST

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