India sign off with bronze

Tushar scores solitary goal against South Korea

India sign off with bronze

Indian players celebrate their victory against South Korea in the bronze medal field hockey match at the 16th Asian Games in Guangzhou . India defeated South Korea 1-0. AFP

After the heart-breaking defeat to Malaysia that ruled them out of contention for the gold, India kept the Koreans on a tight leash in the play-off match at the Aoti Hockey Centre.

Tushar Khandkar scored the only goal of the game in the 40th minute to shut out the Koreans, who finished without a medal for the first time in twenty years. The last time they ended without a hockey medal was at Beijing in 1990, when they were fourth.

India, silver medallists at Busan in 2002 and fifth last time in Doha, didn’t allow the disappointment of their semifinal defeat to affect their game on Thursday. They kept possession and attacked whenever the opportunity presented itself while the goalkeeping of Bharat Chhetri also played a key role in their victory.

The Koreans received two penalty corners in the first half and on both occasions, Chhetri was up to the task, first parrying a Jang Joong Hyun flick and then keeping out a low hit by Nam Hyun Woo.

India tried out a variation of the only short corner they got in the first half but Dhananjay Mahadik’s hit was stopped on the line by Korean captain Lee Nam Yong.

After the goalless first half, India struck in the 40th minute. Shivendra sprinted down the right flank and sent a scorching drive into the striking circle. As it breached the Korean defence, Khandkar was nicely positioned in front of the goal to apply the finishing touches.

India created a clutch of chances but failed to score again.

They had to survive some anxious moments as well, when Pakistani umpire H Rasool awarded Korea a penalty corner when a Kim Young Jin hit rose off Bharat Chhikara’s stick and hit Lee inside the Indian striking circle. Indian players’ protests went in vain but luckily for them, Korea could not capitalise on the chance.

The Koreans could not really threaten the Indian defence from thereon and they played out time to head home with a prize that really does not help their cause much.

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