Hyderabad: Mighty South Korean may prove to be a big hurdle in India’s medal quest when the sides clash in the semi-finals of the Afro-Asian Games women’s hockey meet here Tuesday.
Though Indian coach M. K. Kaushik said his girls would have the “slight upper-hand” in the match, the hosts could ill-afford to take the Koreans lightly, who reached the semi-finals topping Pool B.
“We have a good forward line. Sanggai Chanu and Jyoti Sunita Kullu are playing very well at the moment. I think we have slight edge over the Koreans,” Kaushik said.
“They are a very good side. And we have to play really hard to win,” he added.
The other semi-final will feature South Africa and World Cup winners China.
The win would also give India a chance to earn a medal at an international event, which the coach feels would do a “world of good to the morale of the new members of the side”.
India started the tournament on a high note, drubbing Ghana 8-0 before losing to South Africa 1-3 in the next.
After the demoralising loss, India managed to salvage some pride blanking Kazakhstan 9-0 under lights Sunday.
The win was enough to have the warning bells ringing in the South Korean camp with captain Kim Kyoung asking the players to give their best in the semi-finals.
“We have to pull our socks and play really good hockey. We will be putting in extra effort,” said Kim, who watched the Kazakhstan game.
Meanwhile, Kaushik feels India can only win if they make proper utilisation of the chances.
“We got ten penalty corners each against South Africa and Kazakhstan. But we converted only three,” he said.
In recent times, the silver lining for the women’s hockey team has been the Commonwealth Games gold medal in Manchester last year.
South Korea, on the other hand have dominated the game winning four consecutive Asian Games gold medals from 1986-98
The winning streak of the South Koreans was broken by China, who won the gold in the Busan Games last year.