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ASIA CUP
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ACM 2013: India prevails over Korea 2-0 (8/26/2013)
--Shashank Gupta
Riding high on the goals by Raghunath (6th minute) and Mandeep Singh (65th), complemented by valiant saves by Sreejesh, India beat Korea 2-0 in a Pool B match at the Asia Cup at Ipoh, Malaysia. India now has 6 points from 2 matches and it is unlikely that they will face Pakistan in the semi-finals of the tournament.

India drew early blood in the game. In the 6th minute, Gurmail’s hard work in earning a penalty corner was matched by a deceptive conversion by Raghunath. His grounded flick took India into the lead 1-0.

Koreans took control of the game from here on and remained superior throughout the first half.

Even though the Korean forwards lacked innovation in their onslaught, Indians remained generous in conceding penalty corner to them. The first half saw Indians defending up to 5 penalty corners. Sharp saves by Gurmail once and Sreejesh on other two occasions covered up for the flaws of their team mates.

The Indian forward line remained sloppy with their conversion and co-ordination. On one occasion, a hasty Ramandeep misdirected a pass missing out an unmarked Rupinderpal Singh in the Korean circle. In another goal scramble in the 30th minute, Mandeep’s hit at the goalmouth and the subsequent Manpreet’s reverse-hit on the rebound was successfully blocked by Korean goalkeeper denying India a chance to consolidate their lead.

A large portion of second half belonged to Korean forward line and Indian custodian Sreejesh. The Koreans remained relentless in their attacks and at one stage it seemed imminent that cracks in the Indian defensive will widen up under pressure. However, had it not been numerous spectacular saves by Sreejesh, the score line would have been very different.

Indians forwards picked up steam from 59th minute and retorted to quick attacks one after the other. Manpreet, Malak and Ramandeep got easy chances to score but all lacked a poor finish.

India was finally rewarded for their efforts in the 65th minute when Mandeep Singh got the ball at the top of Korean circle. He had only the Korean custodian to beat and exercising his sharp-shooting skills,he shot between the legs of the Korean goalkeeper and India sailed at 2-0.

India has 6 points in Pool B and are likely to finish 1st in their pool. The script is the same for Pakistan in Pool A. Consequently, it is unlikely that India will meet Pakistan in the finals.

India now take on Bangladesh in their last round robin encounter on Wednesday.

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