Korea dashed Malaysia’s hopes of a maiden Hero Asia Cup trophy as they reigned supreme with a thrilling 2-1 final victory here at the GBK Sports Arena on Wednesday.
This is the fifth time the Korean side have lifted the prestigious trophy. They have won the title in 1994, 1999, 2009 and 2013.
Having won the Hero Asian Champions Trophy in December last year, Korea looked like a confident bunch going into the final, a place they earned by pipping India in a 3-3 draw on Tuesday. The team, with experienced players, recovered well in time to put up a grand fight against the Malaysian unit who looked poised to win the title race, not having lost a single match in the tournament.
After a goalless first quarter, Korea put Malaysia under the pump with a splendid field goal in the 17th minute. The 1-0 lead certainly put pressure on Malaysia who struggled to find their zing in con-verting chances.
They managed an equalizer in the 25th minute through Syed Cholan that brought some respite in the Malaysian dug out but Korea, who had draw against India 4-4 in a high scoring match, worked their strategy to continue to put pressure on the Malaysian defence.
Though the third quarter went goalless, the Korea team’s turning point of the match came in the 52nd minute when they scored a quickfire field goal off a fantastic counter attack set up after Malaysia failed to convert back-to-back PCs.
Malaysia created plenty of opportunities to score in the dying minutes of the match, one such opportu-nity came when Faizal Saari took a shot on goal but Korean goalkeeper was on target to make a fine save.
The Korean defence, one of the best in Asian hockey, lived up to the billing and defended the scoreline. Though they found an opportunity to extend the lead to 3-1 when they were awarded the penalty stroke, the chance went missing with Ma-laysian goalie stopping the ?attempt by Jang Jonghyun.
Earlier in the day, India beat Japan 1-0 to win Bronze while Pakistan finish fifth in the tournament after 8-0 win against Bangladesh.
Hero Player of the Match was awarded to Jang Jonghyun, who completed his 300 international matches for Korea today.
Hero Top scorer of the tournament was Razie Rahim of Malaysia who scored 13 goals
OBO Promising Goal Keeper of the Tournament Akmal Hussain of Pakistan OBO Best Goalkeeper of the Tournament Takashi Yoshikawa of Japan
Rising Star of the Tournament India’s Uttam Singh Hero Best Player of the Tournament Jang Jonghyun of Korea, Man of the match
Special recognition: AHF Athlete Ambassador : SV Sunil of India AHF Athlete Ambassador: Razie Rahim of Malaysia AHF Athlete Ambassador: Mubashar Ali of Pakistan.—AFP