IPOH - South Korea thrashed much-fancied Pakistan 4-0 to register their first win in four matches at the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup hockey tournament on Monday. Setting a brisk pace, the South Koreans benefited from Pakistan’s erratic strikers, who missed chances galore in the first half.
Nam Hyun-Woo converted two penalty corners for the Koreans, who opened the scoring in the 18th minute on their second penalty corner award. Pakistan came back strongly with nice field work, but Muhammad Waqas pushed a shot wide after getting a cross in front of an open goal.
Pakistan skipper Sohail Abbas then came close to equalising from their first penalty corner when his shot hit the edge of goalkeeper Lee Myung-Ho’s pads and deflected on to the post before rebounding into play. Abbas had an off day in office on Monday as he failed to penetrate the Korean defence on all four penalty corners Pakistan earned in the game.
Striker Shafqat Rasool then failed to establish control of a diagonal ball inside the circle with an open goal in front. Nam again shot on target in the 44th minute to make it 2-0 for South Korea. As Pakistan’s game wilted under pressure, You Hyo-Sik increased the lead in the 55th minute after getting a through pass inside the circle.
Hyun Hye-Sung then rounded off South Korea’s scoring in the 62nd minute from a diagonal pass. Down 0-4, Pakistan pressed hard and managed to earn two late penalty corners late in the game but on both the occasion Abbas failed to produce the desired the result.
Inspite of the embarrassing defeat, Pakistan coach Khwaja Junaid defended his team. “It’s disappointing, but we managed to match the energy levels of the Koreans and generated several chances. However, we failed to score goals. This is a grey area we need to work on,” Junaid said. “Like in the game against New Zealand, we conceded goals by individual mistakes,” he said. “We were unlucky to miss sitters. We cannot survive if we keep doing that in international hockey.”
South Korea now have four points from four games, while Pakistan have three from as many matches. New Zealand lead the table with nine points from three games.
Meanwhile in the second match of the day, Mathias Paredes scored two goals as Argentina pulled off an upset 3-2 victory over fancied Great Britain. The defeat of Great Britain, the highest ranked team in the tournament at world number 4, has opened up the event and the fight for the top two spots that will secure a place in the final.
Paredes opened the scoring in the eighth minute when he picked up a rebound from goalkeeper James Fair to shoot home.
Ashley Jackson, who converted two penalty corners for Great Britain, shot wide on the first penalty corner forced by his team in the 11th minute and then Rob Moore shot wide after collecting a pass on top of the circle.
Jackson was on target with his penalty corner flick that went in off the goalkeeper’s stick four minutes into the second half, but Paredes again put Argentina ahead in the 42nd minute after receiving a long pass from Agustin Mazzilli.
Argentine striker Lucas Cammareri made it 3-1 by shooting on target in a crowded circle. Great Britain’s efforts to bounce back were frustrated by Argentina’s sound defence. Jackson managed to reduce the lead with another penalty corner goal in the 65th minute, but Argentina held fort to secure their second win in four matches. This victory lifted Argentina to six points, having defeated South Korea on Sunday, while Great Britain have four points from three matches.