Korea win the Pahang Hockey Champions Challenge 1 in Kuantan

Korea have qualified for the 2016 Champions Trophy after taking a solid 4-0 victory in the final of the Pahang Hockey Champions Challenge 1 in Kuantan. Korea have participated in three previous editions of the tournament but they have never won it before. With Korea grabbing their first Champions Challenge 1 title and Canada finishing second, their best result was a 6th place finish in Quilmes, Argentina, in 2012, this tournament was a huge success for both teams.

“We are very happy with this win because it’s a long time ago that Korea played off in a Champions Trophy”, says Korea coach Shin Seok Kyo. “Qualifying for the Champions Trophy means a lot to us because we know, that we can only improve if we play against the best teams in the world.”

Tonight’s final was a special game for Ben Martin who played his 50th cap for Canada and also for Mark Pearson making his 150th appearance in the national kit.

Korea demonstrated from the first whistle that they wanted to win this final. The Asian champions created their first promising opportunity when Kang Moon Kweon (8’) shot from close range but the Canadian ‘keeper David Carter was able to save.

However, Carter was beaten two minutes later when Jang Jong Hyun (10’) scored from a penalty corner. This was his seventh goal in this competition making him joint top scorer with New Zealand’s Simon Child. World-ranked 7th Korea doubled their lead just three minutes later through Kim Young Jin (13’).

Canada struggled to cross the 23m line as Korea took full control of the match throughout the entire first half. Canada’s first chance arrived in the 42nd minute when Scott Tupper’s penalty corner shot was blocked by the defence.

The Canadians tried to score at least a consolation goal but Korea proved just too strong. The Asian champions scored again to make it 3-0 through a penalty stroke goal from Jang Jong Hyun (56’). This was his second goal of the day and his eighth in the tournament making him the top scorer. The stroke was awarded after goalie Carter had tackled Korea captain Lee Seung Il in the circle. Korea added another goal on 69 minutes when Kim Seong Kyu (69’) put his name on the scoresheet to seal the deserved win.

3/4 Malaysia v Ireland 4-2 (2-1 half time)

The Speedy Tigers finished third at the Pahang Hockey Champions Challenge 1 after winning the bronze medal match 4-2 against Ireland. This result means a lot to the Malaysian team as they have never won a Champions Challenge medal before. The host nation won today’s match thanks to two late strikes from team-captain Azlan Misron and Firhan Ashari.

The match started with high intensity from both sides. Malaysia’s first attack led to a penalty stroke which was converted by Ahmad Nasruddin (7’) to give the Speedy Tigers the lead. This spurred Ireland on, but although they had more ball possession they struggled to break down a well-organised defence.

The second ball came out of the blue when Muhammad Baharom (11’) converted a counter-attack to double the lead, much to the delight of the noisy crowd in the Stadium Wisma Belia.

The Green Machine created a few promising opportunities to get on the scoresheet but could not finish when Stephen Dowds (14’) penalty corner flick was saved and Maurice Elliott’s pass did not find Alan Sothern (18’) in the circle.

However, the Irish team kept on pushing with Phillip Brown forcing their third penalty corner at the beginning of the second quarter. Paul Gleghorne (22’) managed to deflect the ball past the strong Malaysian keeper S. Kumar. Ireland remained the dominant side throughout the second quarter and continued on their quest for an equaliser.

The effort paid off in the third quarter when Chris Cargo (43’) slotted the ball in from close range. The rest of the third quarter saw two equal teams playing as hard as they could to avoid defeat.

Tonight’s atmosphere was fabulous with the fans singing throughout the whole match. Malaysia were the slightly better side in the fourth quarter pushing for another goal. This eventually came after a penalty corner. The Irish keeper David Harte deflected the ball over the baseline, Malaysia were quick to bring it back into action, team-captain Azlan Mishron (66’) picked it up and scored with four minutes remaining.

The 4-2 was a classic counter-attack goal which came when Ireland were pushing for the equaliser. Firhan Ashari (70’) scored in the last seconds of the match securing his team the bronze medal.

 

Individual awards:

Player of the Tournament: Jang Jong Hyun (Korea)
Goalkeeper of the Tournament: David Harte (Ireland)
Best Junior Player of the Tournament: Gabriel Ho-Garcia (Canada)
Top scorer: Jang Jong Hyun (Korea) – 8 goals