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Korea India wins with after shootouts Men • Kyocera Stadium • Umpires:
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NEL Deon (RSA)
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Technical DirectorMcCRACKEN Jason (NZL)

Singh hits high note

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Korea undone by India's pace and flow

Result 9/10th:  India v Korea 3-0 (1-0)

The 9/10 classification match between India and Korea was a contrast in styles. Korea's game is based upon their physicality and fitness, while India play skilful, attacking hockey, that can sometimes unravel under pressure. Fortunately for Sardar Singh and his teammates, today was the day that India found both their attacking flair and, for the most part, their defensive discipline. The result was a comfortable 3-0 victory for the team ranked eighth in the world. India opened their account through Akashdeep Singh (6') and Korea really had no answers.

At half-time, India coach Terry Walsh asked for more attacking play and for his team to look to go on the fore-front, not to simply defend their 1-0 lead, and his team responded, despite spending 10 minutes with one less player. The goal scorers were Singh with two goals and a penalty stroke scored by Rupinder Singh. The result means that India finish ninth, one place below their FIH World Ranking and Korea finish three places below their seventh place ranking.

The first India goal came from the hard running of SV Sunil. His blistering pace saw him leave the Korea defence standing, and his slipped pass was sent with pin point accuracy for Akashdeep Singh to slot home. The Korea forwards tried to create opportunities as they chased for an equaliser, but PR Sreejesh has had an outstanding tournament in goal and he was up to anything thrown at him.

At the other end, his Korea counterpart Lee Myungho was playing his part in keeping the score attainable, notably a tremendous save from a Rupinder Singh penalty corner, and several further saves from the incursions of the India forwards.

Despite Lee's heroics, India added two more goals in the second half. First, a penalty corner struck by Rupinder Singh (43') hit a defender on the line to earn India a penalty stroke. The tall defender composed himself and slotted home to double the lead. 

Korea still kept playing, their physical conditioning allowing them to pressure the India defence. Their case was helped when Gurbaj Singh was dismissed for a poor tackle, but despite India being reduced to 10 men for 10 minutes, Korea were unable to make inroads. Their tactic of playing down the right-hand side was met by a solid India defence, with the aerial ball a much used tool in India's ability to clear the ball.

The game was put beyond doubt when an aerial from Rupinder Singh released Ashkadeep Singh. His initial one-on-one with keeper Lee resulted in a loose ball falling to Sunil. He slipped his pass back to Askadeep (49'), who tomahawked it into the goal and sealed the game for India.

The captain of the India team, Sardar Singh, said: "Our tournament started really good, we had lots of youngsters playing and they have had to learn quickly. They are improving really quickly. Beating Korea was good, we need to do that again in the Asia Cup to qualify for the Olympics. If we play like we did today we will continue to improve. We worked on improving our defending, particularly after conceding in the last minutes against Belgium and England, and after those games we didn't concede like that again."

Terry Walsh, the coach to the India team, said: "Here is the game from our perspective, I thought we made some basic errors in the first half, but the second half we really dominated. We mixed different styles of play - they call it the European way and the Asian way, but I feel that it is just two styles of play. The main difference is that the European approach is to focus on the process not the result. For us it is going to take time for the players to go through the system. If you look at Belgium, they have been working hard for 10 years and they still don't make the top four. All teams are working really hard, and we have to understand that it is a long process."

Official Match Report (PDF)