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The pain of missing out on next year’s World Cup still fresh in their minds, Korea have already started their preparation for the 2018 Asian Games, including a short tour to India to play practice matches and watch top nations at the Hockey World League Final.
Korea needed to win the Asia Cup, which was held in Dhaka in October this year to book their World Cup ticket, but they finished a disappointing fourth in the continental tournament that India won after a hiatus of 10 years.
It was a heartbreak for Korea, once regarded as an Asian hockey powerhouse along with India and Pakistan. But instead of sitting back and pondering upon the loss, the Koreans preferred to look at the future and work towards regaining their lost status.
The Korean team management did not waste time and decided to send its national team to Bhubaneswar to play some practice matches against the local sides and participating teams of the ongoing HWL Final.
“What happened we can’t change. It is not in our hands but we can now work for future and this trip is aimed at preparing ourselves for the Asian Games,” said Korea coach Shin Seok Kyo while watching the Pool A match between Belgium and Olympic champions Argentina here.
“We have been enjoying our stay here. The tour will be a good exposure for the boys, especially the 10 youngsters who are part of this group. The trip will gives us an idea about our strengths and the areas where we need to work on.
“The tour is a part of our preparation for the Asian Games in Jakarta. We have brought 20 players here, out of which 10 are youngsters,” he added.
Korea reached Odisha capital almost a week before the HWL Final and also played a practice game against Argentina, which they won 3-2. Besides, they also played a game against local side East Coast Railway.
“The win against Olympic champions Argentina was a morale booster for my boys. We gained a lot of confidence from that match. The friendly against Argentina was a big exposure for many of our players and I hope this will help in our preparation for Asiad, which is also an Olympic qualifier,” Shin said.
The Korean players have watched matches of all the teams in the HWL Final so far and will depart for home on Monday.