India bounce back to beat South Korea
Five-time champions India bounced back from an opening match defeat to beat South Korea 2-1 with a last-minute strike from SK Uthappa in a closely contested match at the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup hockey tournament here yesterday.
The win comes as a huge confidence boost for India, who suffered a 1-5 thrashing in their opening game against New Zealand. It was truly a classic encounter as India scored the winner with 55 seconds remaining to reignite their hopes after a poor match against New Zealand the previous day. India took the lead in the 12th minute when Sandeep Singh scored a penalty corner, ironically their only penalty corner of the match.
Just when India thought that they had wrapped up all three points, Korea scored the equaliser when the attempt by Nam Hyun Woo sailed into goal off the stick of Manpreet Singh in the 66th minute.
With a draw looking as the likely result, Tushar Khandker sent in a cross from the left which was deflected by Uthappa to give India the much needed win.
India coach Michael Nobbs, however, was not happy with the team’s performance. The Australian said that the players did not play according to the plan and allowed the Koreans to dominate the proceedings.
“It was a good first half but the players lost the plot in the second half and allowed Korea to dominate the proceedings. The players were not playing to the instructions and game plan and hence we struggled to match the Koreans,” said Nobbs. Nobbs also warned the players that the Azlan Shah Cup was a chance for him finalise the squad for the London Games. The tournament will serve India as a platform to fine tune their skills ahead of the London Olympics. India will also be looking to make a podium finish after finishing a disappointing sixth last year in the seven-nation tournament.