Ipoh, Malaysia: India on Friday defeated Malaysia to enter the final of the ongoing ninth Asia Cup hockey tournament here and the team's interim coach Roelant Oltmans said it was the best performance from his wards in the tournament so far.
India will face defending champions Korea in the summit clash after the Koreans beat Pakistan 2-1 in the first semifinal at the Sultan Azlan Shah Stadium here.
"I am quite pleased with our performance. I am pleased the way we played, the energy we brought showed in the game. We utilised the first chance of the game. We knew it will be a difficult game. Malaysia is a very good side. They showed that in the last couple of tournaments. We really had to go all out win this match," Oltmans said after the match.
"I think it was the best game for us in the tournament. It's a great team effort," he insisted.
"We had to be very well orgainsed and we did that through the game. It is a very young side. We are missing quite a number of players."
There was good news for India just before the start of their semifinal clash against the hosts after Korea eked out a narrow 2-1 win over Pakistan in first semi-final.
Three-time champions Pakistan's defeat means, India and Malaysia have virtually qualified for next year's World Cup, the official confirmation of which will come only after the conclusion of the Oceania Cup in November.
It will also be the first time Pakistan will not feature in the World Cup since it started in Barcelona in 1971.
The Koreans have already qualified for the World Cup, while India and Malaysia are also virtually through to the World Cup as the first and second reserves.
When asked whether his boys were under less pressure going into the semifinal knowing that they have virtually secured their World Cup ticket, he quipped, "What happens if Fiji wins the Oceania Cup?
"Of course we knew that (Pakistan) result but at the same time it was very important to keep the attention for the game. But going into the match we knew that our chances of qualifying for the World Cup have become very high," he said.
"At the same time we knew we were playing the semifinal of the Asia Cup and we wanted to win the match as well."
Going into Sunday's final, India will be high on confidence as they defeated Korea 2-0 in the pool stages. But Oltmans warned his boys against complacency.
"It's a new game. We will have to forget the results from the past. They don't count anymore. The fact that Korea won today showed why they are here for. They are here to win the Asia Cup and they showed it today by beating Pakistan," the Dutchman said.
"It will be a very tough game. But the good thing was that we conceded less penalty corners as we did against Korea. But we will have to be aware about everything because Korea is a very dangerous side," he added.