Sultan Azlan Shah - Korea subjects India to its second consecutive defeat
A young Indian team suffered its second straight defeat in Sultan Azlan Shah Cup, this time against the Korean side with the score line of 2-1 in the round robin encounter. India, who lost their first game against Australia 3-4, failed to hit the top gear in the match while the Koreans made most of the Indian mistakes.
The early part of the game was dominated by India but they failed to put on a major attack to threaten the Korean goal despite having most of the possession. As the game progressed, the play shifted to the midfield with neither of the teams able to unlock the opponent’s defence. The play was quite uneventful in the first 20 minutes of the game with neither team taking any chances.
When it looked like the half would end with no goals for either side, Koreans launched wave after wave of attack, pressurising the Indian defence. Korea won 5 penalty corners in the first half of the game, three of which were due to the mistakes of Harbir Singh. In the 29th minute of the play, Korea finally converted a penalty corner to take well deserving 1-0 lead. Korea continued to attack after the goal, but failed to score. Indian keeper PR Sreejesh was having a great time under the sticks as he thwarted attack after attack of the Korean team. If not for Sreejesh, Indian team would have been 3-4 goals down by the end of the first half. Korea had a total of 5 shots at Indian goal in the first half while the Indian team had none to show in response.
After a sloppy first half, Indian team responded well in the second half and started creating chances to score. A beautiful combination between Malak and Mandeep brought India on level terms in the 39th minute of the game with Malak Singh scoring the equaliser. Manpreet Singh ran into the Korean half on a break-away move and passed it to Mandeep who made a superb overlapping run from the right. He then pushed the ball for Malak in front of the goal, and the youngster made no mistake to make it 1-1. With that goal, India’s confidence increased and the team started creating moves to get a lead. The attacks earned India 4 penalty corners but poor conversion by Rupinder Pal Singh meant India failed to make the most of them.
India’s inability to convert the penalty corners and a green card to midfielder Manpreet Singh gave Korea a chance to punish India. Down to 10 men, India came under pressure from the Koreans and Kang scored in the 60th minute to give Korea a 2-1 lead. Indian strikers continued to create chances and won a couple of penalty corners but Rupinder failed to score while India’s other penalty corner expert Gurjinder Singh sitting on the bench, waiting for his turn to play.
With just a couple of minutes to go, India succumbed under pressure and failed to create any chances to level the scores. Koreans cut the Indian supply in the last few minutes to earn their first victory of the tournament.
After a second consecutive defeat in the tournament, India will now face arch-rivals Pakistan on 12th March.
Korea – 2 (Kang Moon Kweon, Kang)
India – 1 (Malak Singh)