India made a spirited fightback in the second half but failed to earn a direct berth in next years hockey World Cup as they lost 3-4 to defending champions South Korea in the Asia Cup final. The Indians,who are virtually assured of a place in the games showpiece event to be held at The Hague,Netherlands,needed to win the eight-nation tournament to secure an automatic entry.
However,Koreas fourth title win means Malaysia will return to the World event after a gap of 12 years,while India will have to wait till the conclusion of the Oceania Cup in November before their place is confirmed.
Given their form in the tournament,India looked favourite to win the final. However,Korea made a mockery of any such predictions and took a 2-0 lead by the half time,with goals from Jang Jong Hyun (28th minute),You Hyo Sik (29th).
India came back after the breather blazing all guns and a drag-flick from Rupinderpal Singh (48th) and a brilliant field goal from Nikkin Thimmaiah (57th) brought them right back into the game.
Korea again took the lead through Nam Hyun Woo (57th),who converted a penalty stroke,but Mandeep Singh restored parity with a spectacular goal off an equally breathtaking move.
However,Koreas Kang Moon Kweon (68th) defected the ball past goalkeeper PR Sreejesh off a controversial penalty corner to dash Indias hopes. India will feel hard done by,for Rupinder appeared to have made a legitimate clearance,but the umpire deemed otherwise and signalled a short corner. And Korea were superb at it today,with three of their four goals coming directly or indirectly through penalty corners,including the third goal off the stroke.
Bronze for Pak
Earlier,Pakistan had something to cheer about as they defeated hosts Malaysia 3-1 to win the bronze medal. Pakistan came back from a goal down to prevail over the erring Malaysians. The Green Shirts scored through a brace from Abdul Haseem Khan (35th,56th) and skipper Muhammad Imran (54th).
Minutes of the Meeting
17 Uthappa passes but Ramandeep Singh fails to control inside the D.
22 India goalkeeper Sreejesh clears a dangerous ball.
28 Goal Jang Jong Hyun converts South Koreas first penalty corner.
29 Goal You Hyo Sik increases South Koreas lead via a field goal.
48 Goal Rupinderpal Singh flicks to the right corner to convert a PC.
55 Goal A reverse flick does the trick as Nikkin Thimmaiah equalises.
57 Goal Nam Hyun Woo has Sreejesh going the wrong way as he converts a penalty stroke.
63 Ramandeep Singh misses out as he hits the ball over the crossbar.
65 Goal Mandeep connects from a Ramandeep scoop from the right.
68 Goal Kang Moon Kweon positioned on the right finishes off a smart penalty corner conversion.