Korea and Canada set up the final of the Pahang Hockey Champions Challenge 1 in Kuantan. The Asian champions walked away with a 2-1 victory over Ireland in the second semi-final to remain unbeaten in this competition. Earlier, Canada had won a dramatic shoot-out 5-4 against host nation Malaysia. The Speedy Tigers will now face Ireland’s Green Machine in the bronze medal match.
“This was a difficult game but I’m happy that we won it”, says Korea coach Shin Seok Kyo. “Ireland have a good team with a great goalkeeper, they were defending really well.”
Korea were on fire from the start of the match and forced their first penalty corner after 56 seconds. The Irish goalkeeper David Harte was called into action early parrying three shots in a row. However, this penalty corner resulted in another one. This time Korea’s top scorer Jang Jong Hyun got the dragflick away firing it underneath the crossbar to give his team the lead.
Afterwards the crowd saw both teams fighting it out in midfield with no chances either side. The Green Machine forced a penalty corner on 16 minutes but Stephen Dowds flick went wide off target.
Ireland’s Eugene Magee made his 168th appearance in the senior team today making him the most-capped player Irish Men’s Hockey.
Korea kept good control of the match throughout the second half. Just before the end of the third quarter they forced their third penalty corner to double the lead. This time they showed a variation with Hyun Hye Sung (53’) eventually receiving possession and flicking the ball into the net.
Chris Cargo’s (64’) late consolation goal brought hopes back to Ireland but Korea managed to run the clock down. “I cannot say how proud I am”, says Ireland coach Craig Fulton. “We played really well but we scored a bit too late.”
Now Fulton is looking forward to face Malaysia in the bronze medal match. Commenting on the final Korea coach Shin says: “Canada have good individual skills. We want to win tomorrow because we want to play the 2016 Champions Trophy.”