The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
Email This Page
India set up Pak showdown
- asia cup semis - Koreans concede three goals in last three minutes after Sandeep Michael leads recovery

Kuala Lumpur: India get a chance to settle scores when they take on Pakistan in the Asia Cup final on Sunday. After the Indians scraped past South Korea 4-2 in the first semi-final, Pakistan beat a spirited Japan 3-1.

This is the first time since 1989 the two giants will be taking on each other in the title round.

It wasnít easy for India as South Korea took the lead through Yo Hyo Sik in the 39th minute before Sandeep Michael, undoubtedly the hero of the day, put India back into the match with a superb goal 14 minutes later.

Though two more goals by Prabhjot Singh (67th) and Gagan Ajit Singh (69th) gave India a comfortable 3-1 lead, a resurgent South Korea threatened to neutralise the advantage as Lee Jung Seon slammed home in the 69th minute.

As the spectre of an equaliser loomed large, Deepak Thakur put to rest all fears by scoring seconds before the hooter. The last three minutes of play produced four goals, of which India got three.

The forwards looked a bit jaded in the first half during which they played without much co-ordination, but they struck when it mattered most as India booked their berth in the final for the fifth time in the sixth edition of the competition.

The second half saw a vastly improved side that not only put pressure on the opposition on several occasions but created several opportunities, though most of them went abegging.

Each of the forwards, including skipper Dhanraj Pillay made attempts at the goal but were unlucky not to find the target on a number of occasions. Several of the hits either went wide or were stopped by the Korean goalkeeper, who did a commendable job under the post.

The match witnessed some tense moments when Baljit Singh Dhillon was stick-checked by a Korean defender with the Indians trailing 0-1. Dhillon, who was making a move, gave the player a piece of his mind since the Indians were trying desperately for the equaliser.

Later when the match was tantalisingly poised, one player from each side were shown yellow cards for different reasons. The umpire gave Kim Chul the marching orders when the South Korean earned a second green card while India were taking their second penalty corner.

The absence of Chul from the field for five minutes proved costly for the defending champions since it gave the Indians the chance to take a 2-1 lead in the 67th minute.

Defender Kanwalpreet Singh was also ejected from the ground after he pushed an opposition before entering into an argument with the umpire.

India were lucky not to concede a goal in the first half. The Indians left huge gaps in their defence inviting trouble but their opponents failed to grab the opportunities.

Chauhan, who had a lacklustre outing against Pakistan in Indiaís last league match on Wednesday, had a good day under the post when he effected two more good saves.

Meanwhile, Shabbir Hussainís field goal put Pakistan ahead in the 27th minute. Japan did well to neutralise the lead when Ryuji Furusato found the target in the 39th minute. Two minutes later, Pakistan made it 2-1 with Gazanfar Ali converting the second penalty corner. The three-time champions rounded off the tally in the 57th minute through captain Nadeem Ahmed.

In the play-off for 5-6 positions, hosts Malaysia will take on China while Bangladesh and Hong Kong fight for the 7-8 places. Malaysia beat Bangladesh 5-0 while China downed Hong Kong 2-0 on Friday. (PTI)

Email This Page