Defending Champions Indian Women’s Hockey Team lost to hosts South Korea 0-1 in the Final match of the 5th Women’s Asian Champions Trophy played here at the Sunrise Stadium on Sunday. The match saw South Korea keep a resolute defence and score the only goal of the match in the 24th minute when Youngsil Lee found the back of the net.
India’s defence was tested in the early stages of the match as South Korea started the game well, winning possession in the midfield and putting pressure on the Indian defence. However, India defended their lines well as they tried to attack the hosts on the counter in what was a well-matched first quarter for both the teams. South Korea had the better chances in the first period but the teams ended the first quarter goal-less as neither team managed to find an opening.
The second quarter saw the hosts put constant pressure on the Indians as they won three Penalty Corners in the span of two minutes, but Indian Goalkeeper Savita made sure that she made some reflex saves to deny the hosts of taking an important lead. It was a phase in the match where South Korea dominated as they looked for an opening and they succeeded in the 24th minute when they caught India’s defence on the counter-attack. Mi Hyun Park made a darting run towards the baseline on the right flank and passed the ball across the Indian goal, which was deflected into the back of the net by Youngsil Lee to give her team the lead. India struggled to build momentum after going behind as the hosts took their one-goal lead into the half-time break.
The onus was on the Indian team to find the equalizer as they looked to defend their crown against the hosts. However, South Korea made sure that they did not let the Indian attackers find space inside their striking circle. The hosts sat back in their own half for most of the match, and looked to hit India on the counter which saw the Koreans find another chance in the 43rd minute when Mi Hyun Park found herself one-on-one with an Indian defender inside the striking circle, but her shot was saved by Savita. Korea had another chance to extend their lead in the 44th minute as they won their fourth Penalty Corner of the match, but Savita’s heroics continued as she parried away the shot to keep India in the match.
It was down to the Indian team to take the initiative in the last quarter as Korea sat deep in their own half and invited India to play long balls. It was a move that favoured the Koreans as they defended their flanks well, and did not allow the Indian attackers to find possession in the final third of the pitch. It was a tense final few minutes for both the sides as India looked to score the equaliser but Korea had their eyes set on the title. Owing to the need of a goal, India replaced their Goalkeeper Savita with an outfield player and tried to up their ante, but South Korea’s man-marking in midfield made sure that they kept their lead intact as India failed to create a goal-scoring opportunity in the latter stages of the match.
The win for South Korea saw them lift the title for the third time after having won in the 2010 and 2011 editions of the tournaments. Whereas, India finished Runners-up for the second time after having lost in the final of the 2013 edition to Japan.
A strong performance from the Indian team’s attackers saw Forward Vandana Katariya being declared as the Player of the Tournament while youngster Lalremsiami was given the award for the Upcoming Player of the Tournament. Forward Navneet Kaur and Vandana Katariya were also the joint Top-scorers of the Tournament along with China’s Xiaoming Song.