Asian Games champion Japan and Korea have once again reiterated their claims for honour in the Asian men’s hockey while pushing the continental power houses – India and Pakistan – to the second rung positions.
In the just concluded Hero Asian Men’s Hockey Champions Trophy at Dhaka, Korea surprised the Asian Games champions Japan4-2 in a penalty shootout after the two teams played a 3-3 draw in the gold medal match.
In the bronze medal game, India confirmed its superiority over its neighbour and arch-rival Pakistan with a hard fought 4-3 win.
Both India and Pakistan must have been left wondering as what mesmerized them in their encounters against Japan and Korea. Though India may have some satisfaction of defeating Japan 6-0 in a pool match, Pakistan remained winless against the Koreans, both in pool game and the semi-final.
Korea, helped by their ace drag flicker J. Jong managed to hold their Japanese opponents to a thrilling 3-3 draw before dominating the penalty shootout proceedings with a 4-2 win. This is the first title of Koreans in any continental championship in recent years.
India continued from where it left with a 3-1 win in the pool game against Pakistan as Harmanpreet Singh scored from a penalty corner to put the Olympic bronze medalists ahead. Varun Kumar (penalty corner), Akashdeep Singh and Sumit Kumar (field goals) were the other scorers for the winners while Pakistan too, had its share of success, both in penalty corner conversions and field scoring, as it up a splendid fight before going down 3-4 in an absorbing encounter.
Final standings: Korea 1, Japan 2, India 3, Pakistan 4 and Bangladesh 5.