Japan tonight clinched the Women’s Asia Cup gold medal by defeating Korea 7-6 in a pulsating final that went all the way down to a penalty stroke competition after the two sides remained locked on one goal each at the end of the 15 minutes extra time period.
By Mike Field, Media Officer Asia Cup
With the goals scored in normal time, neither side was able to score the winner during the extra period after virtually running themselves into the ground in the high humidity of Hong kong.
And then it was down to the penalty strokes. With both sides missing one stroke each in the first round, the competition went into sudden death. And it was Japan who held their nerve, with Korea's Kim Mi Seon's stroke being saved by Japanese goal keeper Ikuko Okamura, taking the Championship title by 7 goals to 6.
From the opening whistle it was obvious that the match would be a titanic struggle between two very well matched sides with the fast and powerful Koreans using the well tried and very successful blitzkrieg tactics that until tonight saw all opposition in the tournament simply blown away. In contrast Japan used the same tactics that brought them victory over China in the semi finals by blocking the midfield and then breaking out to try and score. Korea countered the Japanese tactics by good use of the long ball down the side lines to try and get in behind the superb Japanese defence.
‘After losing to Korea in our pool match, I knew we had to stop them in the midfield because of their pace' said very happy Japan coach Yoo Seung Jin after the epic final.
And certainly this was a very different Japan to the side beaten by 4-1 by Korea in the early pool competition.
With the game being played at frenetic pace, it was Japan who opened the scoring in the 26th minute when Keiko Miura converted a penalty corner to give her side the early lead.
But Korea came out in the second half with all guns blazing and scored the equalizer in the 42nd minute when Kim Jung Eun converted a penalty corner with a high flick into the top right hand corner of the net that had goalkeeper Okamura well beaten.
Both sides came close to scoring that vital second goal but it was not to be although Korea came closest in the final minute with a deflection by Cheon Seul Ki from a fierce Gim Sung Hee cross just missing.
Smarting from their defeat at the hands of Japan in yesterday's semi final fixture, China came back to score a 4-2 victory over India to take the bronze medal.
Starting the match a cracking pace, China stormed the Indian goal mouth from the opening whistle with Tang Chung Ling, one of the teams leading goal scorers, having a wild swing and missing the ball completely when she only had Indian goal keeper Marita Tirkey to beat.
Just two minutes later Tirkey was called on to make a fine save from an acute angle shot fired in by Li Hong Xia. Then as the action quickly moved to the China circle, the Chinese goall keeper Zhang yi Ming was forced to save a deflection by Indian captain Mamta Kharab in the 6th minute.
China then began to take control of the match despite Indian attempts to slow down the blistering early pace and a Chinese attack launched by Song Qing Ling down the left saw her latch on to a rebound and beat Tirkey with a great shot to give China a 1-0 lead.
China's pace on attack forced several more penalty corners and in the 22nd minute Chinese captain Ma Yi Bo converted with a superbly taken flick high into the net to make the score 2-0. Five minutes later another leading China goal scorer Li Hong Xia made it 3-0 after an Indian lapse in defence on the right.
With China continually probing the Indian defence with speedy runs down both flanks, the half time score stood at 3-0.
The pattern continued at the resumption with China again forcing yet another penalty corner in the 42nd minute. and again it was skipper Ma Yi Bo who converted to make the score 4-0.
Then just when it seemed that they were down and out, the Indians began to take some semblance of control in the match. And with the team forcing a rare penalty corner, vice captain Suman Bala converted to claw one back with the score at 4-1 to China.
Then in an astonishing passage of play two Indian players, Joydeep Kaur and top forward Jasjeet Kaur, both received yellow cards for rough play in 53rd and 56th minutes respectively.And very surprisingly China was unable to take advantage of an Indian side down to nine players for a short period.
Back to full strength, it was India who put in a strong finish to pull back another goal when Jasjeet Kaur led an attack down the right to draw the defence and score the final goal of the match in the 69th minute with China winning 4-2 at the final whistle.
This gave China the bronze medal while India took the fourth place slot.
Results Women’s Asia Cup Sunday 9 September 2007
Japan – Korea 7-6 (after penalty stroke competition)
Bronze Medal Match:
China – India 4-2
Malaysia – Thailand 3-1
Chinese Taipei – Hong Kong 1-0
Please click here for direct access to the special Women's Asia Cup website.
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