Indian hockey

Asian Champions Trophy: Sunita Lakra & Co take on Korea in a dress rehearsal for final

India, the defending champions, will play South Korea in their last group stage game before meeting them in the final again.

India will take on hosts South Korea in their last round-robin match at the fifth Women’s Asian Champions Trophy in Donghae City in South Korea on Saturday.

The team, led by defender Sunita Lakra, have won all their matches (4-1 against Japan, 3-1 against China and 3-2 against Malaysia) so far.

Playing the world No 9 side in their home ground will challenging for the Indian team. But it will help them prepare for the final on Sunday where they will play Korea again.

The hosts won two matches (3-1 against Malaysia, 3-1 against China) and drawn one (1-1 against Japan) in the round-robin stage.

“Korea is a good team, but our girls have played this tournament with a lot of confidence. We are not so bothered about this being their home ground but want to just focus on ourselves and carry forward the good momentum,” said coach Sjoerd Marijne.

India have focussed more on their attack this tournament. And that has, occasionally, weakened their defence. But the mistakes will have to be minimal against Korea.

“The Koreans like to play high press. It will be important for us to not let that pressure affect our game and we need to ensure we don’t make mistakes in our own half. Besides this, we will need to move the ball fast to create space,” added the chief coach on the eve of the match.

While India were lethal against Japan and a higher ranked China, the level seemed to drop a little against Malaysia.

Marijne said, “It is not always easy to play against a team who play with 11 players in their circle. To make the game favorable to us, we need to score more PCs and ensure we don’t miss easy goals.

“When that doesn’t happen, the level starts dropping and we made some silly mistakes. But what is important is, we won that match.”

On playing Korea on Saturday as well as on Sunday in the final, Marijne said, “This match will give us a good understanding of how they play and what changes we need to make ahead of the final. We have to be smart in the way we play and ensure we don’t exhaust ourselves too much.”

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