The Golden Girls of Hockey have shown tremendous resilience in the competition so far. They have remained unbeaten in all four of their round-robin matches, even defeating a higher ranked team like China 3-1.
The terrific performances by the girls mean that India will head into the final full of confidence, being on the top of the table with 10 points. Meanwhile, South Korea have also remained unbeaten in the competition, winning their matches against Malaysia and China, and drawing with Japan and India.
The 4th round-robin match against South Korea ended in a 1-1 stalemate, with neither sides capitalizing fully on the goal-scoring opportunities they had. Sjoerd Marijne's side started off the match with a flurry of attacks. However, as the game progressed, the Koreans were a lot tighter and their marking was spot on. This frustrated the Indians a lot and Korea's Cheon Seul Ki took advantage of this fact, scoring in the 20th minute. Korea would have doubled their lead, but luckily for the Indians, the 2nd goal by Park Seunga was disallowed by the officials on the basis that it was a dangerous high ball.
The defending champions looked flustered for the first time in the competition. However, Lalremsiani came to their rescue as she scored off a rebound in the 49th minute, thereby saving India's blushes. The Indian goalkeeper Savita was also vital for the remainder of the match as she pulled off some amazing saves in the final 10 minutes.
Not much time is left for the final, which is a repeat fixture of this match, but the coach will be going into the repeat fixture with a new game plan. The Korean's certainly gave the Indian team a momentary scare and the final promises to be an adrenaline-fuelled encounter with both teams giving it their all.
After a 4th place finish at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games, which was their best after the Melbourne CWG 2006, a win at the Women's Asian Champions Trophy 2018 will be a quantum leap for the Golden Girls of Hockey. It will also do a lot of good for Sjoerd Marijne, who was on the receiving end of a lot of criticism while coaching the Men's side. It will be great if India were to pull off their 2nd consecutive win in the competition before gearing up for the big one that is the Hockey Women’s World Cup London 2018. Before that, though, the Indian girls will be focussing on Jakarta Asian Games 2018, winning which will give them a direct entry to the Tokyo Olympics 2020.
The newly assigned coach Sjoerd Marijne would be really happy with the team's performance. However, the Indians should not get too ahead of themselves and ensure that they keep their cool during the final hurdle as well, thereby grabbing the coveted trophy. India are currently placed 10th, whereas South Korea are placed 9th in the world rankings, so this match is bound to be a close one.
Meanwhile, China and Malaysia will be battling it out in the third-place match.
Here are all the important details of the final match:
Tournament name: 5th Women's Asian Champions Trophy 2018
Match: India vs South Korea
Venue: Donghae City (Korea)
Date: 20 May 2018
Time: 11:30 am (IST)
Broadcast: No telecast
Live-stream: YouTube (Channel: itop21sports)
Live Updates: SportskeedaPublished 19 May 2018, 20:57 IST