KOREAN coach Shin Seok Kyo was full of praise for international debutant, Kim Hyeonhong who scored off two penalty corners to see his team come from behind to beat Pakistan 2-1 in the 29th Sultan Azlan Shah Cup 2022 International Men’s hockey tournament at the Sultan Azlan Shah Stadium, Ipoh, this evening.
The win which kept Korea, the defending champions, unbeaten after four matches with three wins and a draw to book their berth in the final with a final game in hand against South Africa on Monday.
“Kim had no caps coming to this tournament and has rose to the occasion to be a permanent feature in the national team,” said Shin.
“Besides, he was a stand-in for our regular and experienced penalty flicker Jang Jonghhyun who was injured in our opening match against Malaysia,” revealed Shin.
Kim, 27, had also scored against Malaysia in their 3-0 win and is the current top scorer with three goals to his name.
Kim was fittingly named the Man of the Match this evening.
Shin said he was not unduly disturbed when Pakistan took an early lead as early as 4th minute when Shahid Abdul scored a field goal off a long pass into the circle by his captain Umar Bhutta.
“Time was on our hand and I knew our team had the discipline to comeback into the game. Although we managed to score the goals in the final quarter in the 51st and 52nd minute, we beat Pakistan.
“Besides, I knew Pakistan was a young and inexperienced team and will crumble under pressure and that is what exactly happened.”
Pakistan’s Dutch coach Siegfried Aikman was obviously upset of having lost match after leading and against Japan they led by two goals to end up sharing points.
“It is the same story with us and I am upset that we squandered leads. But then looking at the bigger picture, this is what happens when we have an inexperienced and young team. It is a learning process, but an expensive one,” said Aikman.
“We have eight debutantes in the team and besides captain Umar Butta, he rest have less than 23 caps.
“It is not an excuse but a reality we have to accept. We play well for 80 percent of the game, but make mistakes for 20 percent of the game which is costly in the end for us.
“But I am happy that team has not bee thrashed by any team and we matched more experienced and higher rank teams. Our performance here will augur well for the future of Pakistan hockey.”
Pakistan have after four matches only two draws (against Malaysia 1-1 and Japan 2-2) and two loses (South Africa 1-4 and Korea 1-2) and have ruled themselves for a berth in the final.
Pakistan play their last match against Egypt on Mondy.