Hockey: Korea women win Asian Games gold and Rio 2016 spot
- Updated: October 2, 2014
October 2, 2014: Hosts South Korea claimed a place at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games following a hard-fought 1-0 victory over China in the Asian Games women’s final on Wednesday. India defeated Japan 2-1 to take bronze in Incheon, while Malaysia thrashed Kazakhstan 8-0 to finish fifth.
The final was a battle not only for gold but also the first place to be assigned at the Rio 2016 Olympic hockey tournament. The contest was also a rematch of the 2010 Asian Games final in Guangzhou and – as was the case then – the hosts took the glory.
Although Korea made the better start to the match, they could not translate their dominance into first-half goals due to some outstanding Chinese defending. Korea increased the pressure in the second period and eventually broke the deadlock in the 41st minute when a bouncing ball fell to Kim Da-rae in the circle, who took full advantage to fire home what proved to be the winner.
China battled to level the scores, but in the end Korea left the field as the deserving winners of both the match and the tournament, booking that all-important first ticket to Rio.
When asked about when preparations for Rio 2016 will begin, Korea coach Han Jin-soo replied with a knowing smile: “Today. Now.”
China coach You Baodong again lamented his team’s inability to take their chances. “Both teams played a very good game, but the difference was that Korea knew to convert their opportunities while we failed to do so,” he said.
In the earlier bronze-medal match, Jaspreet Kaur gave India a first-half lead with a penalty-corner conversion, before Akane Shibata grabbed a long-sought equaliser in the second half. However, Japan’s joy was short-lived as India replied less than a minute later, with Vandana Katariya netting the winning goal.
India coach Neil Hawgood was emotional after the match. “This is the result of two-and-a-half years of very hard work,” he said, confessing pride in the resilience shown by his talented but youthful charges against a gifted Japanese team.
In the fifth-place match, Malaysia scored in the 20th minute, but the contest remained close ahead of a more one-sided third and fourth quarters.
A yellow-card for Kazakhstan’s Natalya Gataulina swung the game, as Malaysia netted two goals within a minute to lead 3-0. Kazakhstan faded in the final quarter, while the still-energetic Malaysians battled on to score five more times and match their finish at Guangzhou 2010.
Asian Games Women’s Hockey: October 1, 2014
Fifth place: Malaysia 8-0 (1-0) Kazakhstan
Bronze Medal: Japan 1-2 (0-1) India
Final: China 0-1 (0-0) Korea
Source: FIH (www.fih.ch); Editing by SportAsia