Korea edge Japan to win maiden ACT title, India overcome Pakistan to finish third

Published December 23, 2021
DHAKA: Pakistan’s Ali Ghazanfar (C) vies for the ball with Indian players during their Asian Champions Trophy third-place playoff on Wednesday.—AFP
DHAKA: Pakistan’s Ali Ghazanfar (C) vies for the ball with Indian players during their Asian Champions Trophy third-place playoff on Wednesday.—AFP

DHAKA: South Korea stamped their authority as a potent force in field hockey on Wednesday when they defeated Japan in shootout in a thrilling final of the sixth Asian Champions Trophy here at the Maulana Bhashani Hockey Stadium.

This is South Korea’s maiden Asian Champions Trophy title. Arch-rivals Pakistan and India, the two erstwhile major world hockey powers, besides winning the title twice each shared the trophy in the fifth edition staged in Muscat in 2018 The scoreline read 3-3 in regulation time.

South Korea’s Jeong Junwoo broke the deadlock scoring in the eighth minute of the game. Japan equalised through Ken Nagayoshi in the 24th minute. Japan then moved ahead 3-1 thanks to goals by Ryoma Ooka in the 29th minute and Yoshika Kirishita (38th).

In a magnificent comeback, South Korea through Jang Jonghyun reduced the deficit to 3-2 in the 55th minute, and then scored another goal — this time on penalty corner -- just a few seconds before the final hooter.

The nail-biting match then went onto penalty strokes where Japan’s Raiki Fujishima missed the first penalty while the second was successfully taken by Ryoma Ooka but then again third one was missed by Kosei Kawabe.

The last penalty was scored by Seren Tanaka but it was too late.

South Korea scored on all their attempts. Lee Jungjun, Ji Woo Cheon, Hwang Taeli and Lee Hyeseung were the scorers.Jang Jong-Hyun was the top scorer of the tournament with 10 goals.

Earlier on Wednesday, India edged past Pakistan 4-3 in another exciting finish to secure bronze medal.

Rana Abdul Waheed scored Pakistan’s second goal as India went behind 2-1 in the third quarter. India however gathered momentum and took a crucial 3-2 lead in the final quarter through Varun Kumar on a penalty corner after Gursahibjit Singh brought India in the game as he scored the equaliser at the stroke of the fourth quarter with the score level at 2-2.

The match went down to the wire with both team going full throttle against each other in order to stamp their authority. India started on a bright note after Harmanpreet Singh scored from the penalty corner earlier which helped India take a 1-0 lead in the first quarter. However, Pakistan’s Afraz equalised for his team soon and brought the game to equal terms.

Eventually Akashdeep Singh scored India’s final goal to put them ahead 4-2 and within touching distance of a medal. Pakistan’s third goal went in vain as India ended the tournament at the third place.

Earlier, India had crashed to a shocking 3-5 defeat against Japan in the semi-final, despite finishing the round-robin stage with a perfect record. Pakistan had lost to South Korea in their semi-final in a 5-6 thriller.

Published in Dawn, December 23rd, 2021

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