IPOH - The last league games in the 9th Asia Cup in Ipoh unfolded on the expected lines. Title holders South Korea mauled debutants Oman 10-0 to book a berth in the semifinals while India, having already secured a seat in the last four, rolled over the men from neighbouring Bangladesh 9-1 on Wednesday to confirm who plays who in the semi-finals.
Pakistan will face the tough South Korean challenge while India will take on hosts Malaysia for a place in the final that will not only decide who wins the 2013 Asia Cup but also who goes through to the 2014 World Cup. South Korea have already qualified for the quadrennial event to be held in The Hague, Netherlands.
With wins against Japan (7-0), Malaysia (4-1) and Chinese Taipei (13-0), Pakistan finished top of Pool A and now would face Pool B runners-up South Korea in the semi-final. India, the only other unbeaten team in the tournament, finished top of Pool B with wins against Oman (8-0), South Korea (2-0) and Bangladesh (9-1).
Defending champions South Korea finished behind India in Pool B after losing to the two-time Asia Cup winners. Malaysia reached the semis finishing second in Pool A but not before a little scare from Japan who went ahead 2-0 against the hosts in the final Pool A match. However, egged on by home support, the Malaysians rallied to win 4-2. Reaching the last-four stage was never a doubt for any of the four semi-finalists, who know that the real test starts now. Pakistan and Korea have won the Asia Cup three times each India have won the title twice.
South Korea took a 2-0 lead against Oman in the first-half. The match, which was supposed to start at 6.05pm, was delayed by 40 minutes due to a downpour. Jang Jong-hyun was the toast for the Koreans, bagging a hattrick in the 15th, 42nd and 64th minutes. He has scored six goals, so far.
Kang Moon-kweon (22nd, 62nd) and Yoon Sung-hoon (39th, 40th) scored a brace each while Jung Man-jae (50th), Lee Jung-jun (51st) and Hyun Hye-Sung (59th) contributed one apiece. South Korea coach Shin Seok-kyo expects his men to face a torrid time against Pakistan, who have been playing exceptionally well in the tournament. “Their defence looks steady with the return of the experienced Waseem Ahmed. Their forwards are really good and fast with their counter attacks,” said Seok-kyo. “However, the pressure will be on them to beat us as they need to win the tournament to qualify for the World Cup.”
Lanky defender Rupinder Pal Singh slammed home four goals while VK Raghunath netted a hattrick as as India trounced Bangladesh 9-1 for their third straight Group B win in the Asia Cup. Rupinder got his goals in the 3rd, 19th, 27th and 61st minutes while Raghunath scored in the 29th, 52nd and 60th minutes. Nikkin Thimmaiah (25th) and Malak Singh (47th) got the other goals for India. Skipper Manmunur Rahman Chayan got a consolation goal for Bangladesh in the 35th minute.