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Interesting semifinals at Men’s Asia Cup
07 Sep 2007 10:06

Competition in the seventh Asia Cup  for men is all set to acquire a new level of intensity when the semifinals surface on Saturday. While the defending champion, India, takes on Japan, whom it beat in the last BDO Champions Challenge at Boom 4-3, Malaysia locks horns with Korea, the Asian Games champion.

By S. Thyagarajan

India's sweep of five matches with 15 points totally 46 goals underlines the newfound confidence and enthusiasm of the team under coach, Joaquim Carvalho. The team has been consistently doing well with two podium finishes this year at Ipoh and Boom. Coach Carvalo still asserts that a silver would have been appropriate at both these events.

With tremendous home support and the record of victories against Japan, India begins as the favourite but with a touch of caution. Japan, which finished ninth at Monchengladbach BDO World Cup cannot be, and should not be, taken lightly. The trump card is Yamabori whose penalty corner hits can befuddle any goal-keeper.

Malaysia has been playing extremely well moving into the top of Pool A without losing a game. Coach Sarjit Singh is optimistic that the team is in fine trim and can deliver against the highly rated Korea. Penalty corner specialist Zufikli and striker Tajuddin coupled with the seniors like Chua Boon Huat and Jiwa Mohan, not to speak of the athletic goal-keeper Kumar Subramaniam constitute the power block for Malaysia.

As always, Korea is a tough customer for any team in contemporary hockey, and relies mostly on the accuracy of drag flicker Jang Jong Hyun. And that the strongly built star playing with shirt No 25, has rarely failed when it came to penalty corners. Small wonder, he will be the corner stone.

Saturday’s matches: 11th place match: Singapore v Thailand (8:00); (5-8 positions): Pakistan v Bangladesh (7:00); China v Hong Kong (9:30); Semi-finals: Korea v Malaysia (17:00); India v Japan (19:30).

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