29 Mar India and Korea to battle for trophy
India and South Korea have met in the final once in 2010. But heavy rain made the match unplayable and both teams were declared joint winners.
Thus, today’s match will be in many ways a chance to complete some unfinished business. India has five titles to date having won them in 1985, 1991, 1995, 2009 and then finally in 2010.
They also made the final two more times. In 2008 they were defeated by Argentina while in 2016 they lost to Australia.
The final on Saturday will be their eighth final. The Koreans were outright winners in 1996 and then jointly with India in 2010. They also made the final in 1999, 2000, 2001 and 2005. But on each occasion they ended up as bridesmaid.
Will the 2019 event be a different story for both teams? One thing is clear. Both want to win the final and both have been the better teams in the tournament.
India are ranked fifth in the world while the Koreans are at number 17. Both are also unbeaten and their match in the preliminary round ended in a 1-1- draw.
Indian skipper Manpreet Singh said that they have a great chance to bag the title they keep to the structure.
“The Koreans are a good team and play with speed. But we have a plan and if the players stick to it, then we can match them. One of the good things I see in this team is the ability to score field and penalty corner goals.
“This is far from being our best team, but they have blended well, and we see a great match ahead. I would like to see an exciting game but hopefully we can get an upper hand against the Koreans,” he said.
The Koreans who have seen their hockey decline in recent years are hoping that a win here will be the catalyst for their resurgence.
Korean coach Shin Seok-kyu, who was also the coach in 2010, said that Korea needs a title badly.
“It is for the individual players, team and the Korean Federation, I am sure a win here will wake up the hockey fraternity back home and provide greater support
“India is a good team and very strong individually. They have also developed a fast style and will be strong defensively as well,” he said.
Seok-kyu felt that the last quarter will be crucial for both teams.
“I do believe that the outcome of the last quarter will decide the match. So, taking an early advantage will be good. We are not that fit and sustaining the pressure 60 minutes will be hard for us. So, we need to to play smart and make sure we take the chances well. You won’t get a second chance,” he said.
India team manager Chris Ciriello said that denying the Korean of attacking space will be crucial for the final.
It is a matter of trying to keep ahead of each other in the match. We need to stay focused and make sure we play to our structure. Denying them space will help us in defending our goal. We have a good scoring record here and that will be good for us,” he added.
Both teams have experienced players to bank on and they can make a difference in the final.
Korea ended its preliminary round with a 4-2 win over Japan.
The Koreans scored their goals through Jang Jung-hyun (20, 57), Lee Nam-yong (28) and Cho Suk-hoon (58) while Kazuma Morata scored both goals for Japan in the 19th and 42nd minutes.
And India created tournament history by handing Poland a 10-0 whipping.