Monday, June 24, 2024

Disappointing start for New Zealand as Korea win men’s hockey opener

[img_assist|nid=1576|title=|desc=|link=none|align=right|width=86|height=100]LONDON, 30 July – Korea earned their first Olympic win against New Zealand thanks to two goals from You Hyo Sik in a 2-0 victory on the first day of the men’s pool play at the Riverbank Arena on Monday.

Seventh-ranked New Zealand dominated territory and possession in the opening stages of the match, but Korea gradually took control as their opponents struggled to cope with their high intensity and work-rate.Phil Burrows, who scored a hat-trick against Korea at Athens 2004, forced goalkeeper Lee Myung Ho into action in the sixth minute with a strong shot and Simon Child wasted a good chance moments later, scuffing his shot wide of Lee’s goal.

Korea, one place ahead of New Zealand in the rankings, then settled and gained more possession. Their first chance came in the 11th minute when Lee Nam Yong brought New Zealand goalkeeper Kyle Pontifex into action with a powerful reverse stick strike from the left of the circle.

Korea adopted the tactic of strong hits into the New Zealand circle looking for deflections and it was this strategy that eventually provided both goals. 

In the 18th minute Nicholas Haig received a green card for raising his stick to cut out a long aerial pass and from the resulting free hit Korea took the lead. Kang Moon Kyu drove the hit in from the right and You batted the ball past Pontifex at the far post.

The tactic worked again in the 34th minute when Jang Jong Hyun drove the ball in on his reverse side from the left. The ball found its way to the back post where You controlled before scoring his second.

New Zealand had recovered a one-goal half-time deficit to win 2-1 in the opening pool match between the teams at Beijing 2008, but it was Korea who started the second half with greater urgency.

Kim Young Jin forced Pontifex into two quick saves and Lee Nam Yong just missed a chance to increase the lead in the 44th minute.

New Zealand’s best chance to get back into the match came with a late series of penalty corners, the first in the 58th minute. Andrew Hayward’s strong flick to the right beat goalkeeper Lee Myung Ho, but was blocked on the line by Lee Nam Yong.

Hayward tried again in the 65th minute, but his flick was blocked by first runner Cha Jong Bok.

Their third and final penalty corner provided their last chance to get a goal back, with Hayward providing a fake flick to set up Shea McAleese inside him to his left. But his low flick was  well saved low to his right by Lee in Korea’s goal.

New Zealand skipper Dean Couzins said: “It was disappointing, and really frustrating. We had a game plan, but we didn’t play as we had hoped to. We know that we can play a lot better than that.

“They were very direct, but we can’t sound surprised because it’s as we expected. They counter-attack very well, they’re a tight and compact group and it worked for them today.”

New Zealand’s next game is at 1.45pm, Wednesday August 1.

“We look forward now to our next match against India. I don’t think we need too many changes. What’s great about the Olympics is that anyone can beat anyone. We definitely know that we can play better, so we’ll sit down, find out our strengths and go with them,” Couzins said.

Total Hockey


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