Thursday, February 9, 2023

South Korean hockey’s comeback story begins with World Cup quarter-final entry | Hockey News – Times of India

BHUBANESWAR: The South Korean celebrations continued even after the bulbs within the gentle towers of the Kalinga Stadium stopped burning on Monday. After failing to qualify for the final two Olympics and the 2018 World Cup, they’re now the one Asian group left within the title race of the Men’s Hockey World Cup.
The quicksilver Koreans, who had been as soon as the Asian group to beat and in addition the runners-up on the 2000 Sydney Olympics, try to regain misplaced floor, which solely augurs effectively for the game within the continent. By beating 2016 Olympic champions Argentina within the vogue that they did within the crossover match of the continued 2023 World Cup, South Korea have taken a significant step within the path of revival.
Behind by two objectives till the ultimate quarter started, the Koreans by no means misplaced their construction and perception led by their fixed of twenty years — Jang Jonghyun, who drag-flicked his second aim within the fiftieth minute and was the central determine in a set-piece that was scored off with a variation.

The Argentines, main 5-4 till 4 and a bit minutes on the clock, had been caught napping in opposition to the nippy boys in pink, who received 3-2 within the shootout. While the three different Asian groups within the event — hosts India, Malaysia and Japan — had been left to lick their wounds within the placement video games in Rourkela, the Koreans had been celebrating their quarterfinal entry in Bhubaneswar.
They face the 2018 runners up Netherlands of their last-eight match on Wednesday.
“Who is it? Holland? Oooh, such a strong team,” stated coach Shin Seok-kyo, with the enjoyment of creating it to the quarterfinals writ giant on his face in addition to within the lighter tone of his comment.
Shin has lived by means of what South Korea is making an attempt to regain in world hockey, main the group’s gold-medal run within the 1994 and 2002 Asian Games along with his deadly penalty-corner photographs, which additionally performed a significant function within the 1994 and 1999 Asia Cup triumphs.
Jonghun took over penalty-corner duties and has been ruling on the high of the D since Shin put his stick down in 2002. After the 2002 Asian Games gold in Busan, the consistency in South Korea’s recreation began waning, to the extent that they missed the bus for Rio 2016.


(Pic credit score: FIH)
The drop in help for the sport again house was one of many main causes behind that.
“Korea is not interested in hockey. The sport is not famous,” coach Shin dwelled upon the explanations for Korean hockey’s fall.
The nation by no means had sufficient provide of hockey gamers. The construction of the sport has by no means been sturdy, however coaches like Shin have tried to make do with no matter is at their disposal.
“There are solely 4 golf equipment in South Korea and 5 college groups,” said Shin. “About 150-200 gamers,” he added. That small number comprises the cream of hockey players in the entire country. The team for the World Cup in India has been picked from among those players.
“In our group, 14 gamers are taking part in their first World Cup. Five or six are skilled gamers,” said Shin. “So now we have a younger group for the longer term. Our goal is the Asian Games in Hangzhou (China) and the (Paris 2024) Olympic Games.”


(TOI Photo)
Things have looked up for the team since 2021. They reclaimed the Asia Cup in 2022 after nine long years and in the year previous to that won the Asian Champions Trophy.
But it’s never easy back home for the Koreans.
“There isn’t any skilled league. Four golf equipment contribute cash – Seongnam City Hall, Incheon City Sports Association, Gimhae City Hall and Army,” the coach added.
Middle school is when kids generally start playing hockey in South Korea and then graduate to high school where they continue with the sport
“There are 15 groups every (in center and highschool). Then they go to school the place there are 5 groups. Some gamers then serve within the Army for 2 years. After that, some go for golf equipment and a few retire. Keeping the gamers collectively may be very tough,” Shin said.
At those levels, Shin said working on the basic skills is his focus as a coach.


(TOI Photo)
“Ball management, open receiving, the way to assault, the way to defend.”
Shin wasn’t happy to see three Asian teams failing to make it to the quarterfinals.
“Very unhappy,” he said. “India is Asia’s chief, (Tokyo) Olympic bronze medallist, high-ranked group. Malaysia and Japan have additionally not made it to the quarterfinals. There was stress (on S Korea in opposition to Argentina) as the one Asian group left.”
That pressure will mount to another level on Wednesday in the quarterfinal against the Dutch.
But it was difficult to spot any nerves in Shin’s words, for whom reaching the quarterfinals was his team’s first objective before they started their journey in this World Cup after a gap of eight years.
“My boys are younger. Some days they play very effectively and a few days not so good. It will take a while…Maybe two or three years later, they are going to be skilled gamers,” said Shin.
Slowly getting their mojo back, a win over Holland and a place in the semifinals against defending champions Belgium will be another giant step in South Korea’s comeback story.

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