India stun Korea 3-0 to reach final
A determined India came up with a brilliant all-round performance to beat the mighty Koreans 3-0 to set a title clash against South Africa in the women's hockey event of the Afro-Asian Games here on Tuesday.
Goalkeeper Helen Innocent's brilliant performance under the bar coupled with some sublime effort from forwards helped India demolish their powerful opponents before a packed house at the Gachibowli stadium.
India's brilliant exploits made the South Koreans rue the missed opportunities. The Koreans squandered not only a penalty stroke but also 11 short corners.
With the win, the hosts also extracted revenge for their loss in the Asian Games in Busan last year from the Koreans, who had then knocked India out of the competition.
For India, Surinder Kaur (35th), Sanggai Chanu (39th) and Jyoti Sunita Kullu (69th) scored the goals.
In the Thursday's final, India will meet South Africa, who beat China 4-0 in the first semifinal earlier in the day.
It was significant win for the new-look Indian side since they came to the tournament without five of their key players, who were part of the team when it won the Commonwealth Games gold in Manchester last year.
"It would be a tremendous boost for the players, particularly the new faces in the side," chief coach M K Kaushik said after the match.
The Indians were clearly the dominant side in the first half as they looked like playing with a purpose. But they failed to cash in on their superiority in the first half, particularly in the initial 20 minutes, due to some poor finishing particularly by Sanggai Chanu, who had otherwise a brilliant day on the field.
India made most of their attacks from the right flank with Surenider Kaur and Chanu playing in tandem.
They messed up with the first real chance that came their way when in the third minute Subhra Praddhan's long pass from the half line to Surinder on the right took the South Koreans by surprise. Surinder immediately unleashed a powerful cross to in to the opposition circle but Chanu, waiting in front of the goalmouth, failed to connect her stick with goalkeeper Jin Kyung Oh not in place.
India got another opportunity six minutes later but again Chanu failed to make the most of it.
India's woes in the tournament with the penalty corners continued as they failed to convert the first three earned in a very short span of time.
They paid for experimenting too much with the penalty corners against a mighty side as Korea in such a crucial match.
They employed different variations for taking the lead but Korean goalkeeper stood good to deny the Indians the chance.
Instead of going for straight hits after getting the push, Indian players engaged in short passes inside the circle giving enough time to Korean defenders to charge forward and deny them any space to take their shot at the goal.
But for missed chances, Indian forwards called the shots for most part of the first half, which was evident from the fact that the Koreans strikers could not take an aim at the Indian post till the first 20 minutes.
But the nippy Koreans upped their game to win four penalty corners with in a space of eight minutes but for an alert Helen, they could not take the lead.
Helen, who was outstanding under the bar, came up with three brilliant saves during that period.
India's fourth penalty corner at the 35th minute probably could not have come at a better time since all the 10 players came forward as captain Surajlala prepared to take the push, knowing well that even if they fail to score and the ball came back to play, the Koreans would have hardly anytime left for the countermove.
Sumanbala hit hard after receiving the push from Surajlata but the goalkeeper stopped it with her pads prompting Surinder Kaur to push the ball in the goal.
Indians did not loose the strangle hold on Korea as the second half begun, putting in a goal in the 39th minute to demoralise their oppositions.
Though Korea got very good chance to reduce the margin, Byoung Ju Sin's hit was brilliantly saved by Helen, who anticipated correctly and dived to her right.
India sealed the match when a rampaging Chanu's cross was deflected in by Jyoti Kullu in the dying stages.
Earlier, Captain Susan Webber's double strike in the second half helped South Africa blank China 4-0 for a place in the final.
Leading 1-0 at the half-time, the South Africans pumped in three more goals in a space of 10 minutes to dash the World Cup winners hopes, who had come to the tournament as one of the title contenders.
Susan slammed home in the 43rd and 53rd minutes after prolific scorer Pietie Coetzee's goal gave South Africa the lead in the third minute.
Kerry Bee scored a field goal in the 44th minute.
Earlier, in the battle between minnows, Kenya overcame Ghana while Kazakhstan beat Nigeria in the play off matches.