India edge China to enter semis

The Indian men’s hockey team huffed and puffed to a tense 2-0 win over China and entered the semifinals of the Asian Games here at the Seonhak Stadium.

Although a draw would have secured their last-four spot, the Indians knew playing for one point could backfire, especially against China who have the potential to spark a surprise.

Still smarting from their 1-2 loss to arch-rivals Pakistan, India once again looked cagey while China opted to stay back and counter whenever a chance presented arrived.

The opening two quarters saw very little goalmouth action although the Indians showed more desire than China to break the deadlock. They finally registered one on the scoresheet when V R Raghunath hammered home from a penalty corner in the 40th minute.

They doubled the lead within five minutes, Birendra Lakra completing a fine piece of play as the nerves in the Indian camp finally settled down.

They wisely chose not to go all out in the final quarter, keeping the ball within themselves and forcing China to do the running. Also knowing their semifinal spot is secured, conservation of energy was high on their mind.

In the semifinals on September 30, they will take on hosts South Korea, who topped Pool A after defeating Bangladesh 7-0. The other semifinal will be between Pakistan and Malaysia. Pakistan drubbed Oman in their last Pool B match while Malaysia defeated Japan 4-1 in their Pool A fixture.

Results: Pool A: Japan 1 (Toshiro Tachibana 14th) lost to Malaysia 4 (Firhan Ashari 2nd, Razie Abd Rahim 20th and 39th, Tajuddin Ahmad 42nd); South Korea 7 (Seongkyu Kim 4th, Moonkweon Kang 6th, Daekeun Oh 19th, Hyosik You 30th, Jang Jonghyun Jang 42nd and 51st, Hyunwoo Nam 59th) bt Bangladesh 0.

Pool B: Oman 0 lost to Pakistan 8 (Muhammad Imran 15th and 43rd, Muhammad Dilber 17th, Muhammad Irfan 20th and 60th, Haseem Khan 23rd and 4th, Umar Bhutta 38th); India 2 (VR Raghunath 40th, Birendra Lakra 45th) bt China 0.

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