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Indian men’s hockey team secures final berth at Asian Games

Indian mens hockey team secures final berth at Asian Games
Photo Credit : IANS

Hangzhou: The Indian men’s hockey team secured a spot in the final of the 19th Asian Games Hangzhou 2022, with a thrilling 5-3 win over Korea in the first semifinal on Wednesday.

India will face the winner of the second semifinal between Japan and China in the final of the tournament for a chance to win the Gold medal and secure a spot in the Paris 2024 Olympics. Hardik Singh (5′), Mandeep Singh (11′), Lalit Kumar Upadhyay (15′), Amit Rohidas (24′), and Abhishek (54′) scored the goals for India to get the important win. Manjae Jung (17′, 20′, 42′) scored a hat-trick for Korea.

The match started with India immediately entering deep inside Korea’s half to test their defence. Hardik Singh (5′) helped India get off the mark as he picked up a rebound inside the circle and hammered it into the nets. Korea tried to attack from the left flanks, but Nilakanta Sharma did well to chase down the Korean forward. Minutes later, India doubled their lead with a sensational team goal as a long ball into the circle was collected by Gurjant Singh and he passed it to Mandeep Singh (11′), who deflected it into the nets. Lalit Kumar Upadhyay (15′) tapped the ball into the nets after picking up a rebound and India took a 3-0 lead at the end of the first quarter.

Trailing by three goals, Korea started moving with urgency inside India’s half and earned an early penalty corner. Manjae Jung (17′) made the most of a variation in the set-piece and Korea pulled a goal back. Korea continued to test the Indian defence from the left flanks, and Manjae Jung (20′) deflected the ball past the Indian goalkeeper PR Sreejesh as Korea further reduced the deficit. But Amit Rohidas (24′) relieved the pressure on India, as he struck a powerful dragflick from a penalty corner to make it 4-2. India remained alert in defence to prevent any further attacks and reached halftime leading 4-2.

The second half started with India searching for an early goal as Mandeep Singh made a dangerous run only to be stopped in his tracks by the Korean defence. Hardik Singh showcased excellent stick work to break through the Korean defence and he managed to enter the circle. But Seunghoon Lee intercepted his pass towards Sukhjeet Singh. Korea earned a late penalty corner and Manjae Jung (42′) scored again to complete his hat-trick and make it 3-4 for Korea. The cagey third quarter came to an end with India still in lead by a goal.

Still trailing by a goal, Korea began a brilliant move from the right baseline, but a dangerous high ball stopped the attack. Hardik Singh and Mandeep Singh tried to combine in the middle to build an attack, but Korea continued to press deep inside India’s half. Abhishek (54′) finally broke Korean resistance as he latched on to a loose ball inside the circle and struck a powerful tomahawk into the nets to extend India’s lead to 5-3. Sanjay made crucial interceptions as Korea tried to trouble India’s defence. India managed to hold off the opposition to win the match 5-3 and qualify for the Final.

Indian men’s hockey team will compete in the final on Friday.

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