Hyderabad: Mighty South Koreans would prove to be a big hurdle in India's medal quest when both the sides clash in the semifinals of the Afro-Asian Games women's hockey event on Tuesday. Though Indian chief coach M K Kaushik said his girls would have the "slight upper-hand" in the match, the hosts could ill-afford to take lightly the Koreans, who reached the semifinals after topping the Pool B. "We have a good forward line. Sanggai Chanu and Jyoti Sunita Kullu are playing very well at the moment. I think we have the slight edge over the South Koreans," Kaushik told PTI here but admitted that his side was wary of the nippy Koreans. "They are a very good side. And we have to play really hard for a win against them tomorrow." The other semifinal would be played between Pool A toppers South Africa and World Cup winners China. Looking for a medal The win would also give India a golden chance to earn a medal at an international event, which Kaushik said would do "world of good to the morale of the new members of the side." India started the tournament on a high note, drubbing Ghana 8-0 in their opening encounter before losing to South Africa 1-3 in the next game, which the coach believed they should have won. After the demoralising loss, India managed to salvage some pride when they blanked Kazakhstan 9-0 under lights yesterday. The win was enough to send warning signals to the South Korean camp with captain Kim Kyoung asking the players to play their best game in the semifinals. "We have to pull our socks and play really good hockey. we will be putting in extra effort," said Kim, who watched the India-Kazakhstan match at the Gachibowli stadium last night. For India, their victory will largely depend on the utilisation of opportunities, said Kaushik. "We got ten penalty corners each against South Africa and Kazakhstan. But we could score only one and two goals respectively," he said. India had the distinction of winning the inaugural Asian Games gold medal in the 1982 at New Delhi. The two other medals that India got was a bronze in the 1986 Seoul Asiad and a silver in the 1998 Bangkok Asiad. In recent times, the only silver lining for the team was the Commonwealth Games gold medal in Manchester last year. The Asian Champs South Korea has been the dominant nation in the region, winning four consecutive gold medals in the Asian Games -- 1986 (Seoul), 1990 (Beijing), 1994 (Hiroshima) and 1998 (Bangkok). The winning streak of the South Korean team was broken by China, who won the gold medal in Busan Asiad. China, coached by a South Korean, also won the 2002 Women's Champions Trophy and the World Cup early this year. The World Cup winners, keen to add another feather in their cap by clinching the gold medal in the first ever inter-continental meet, are expected to face a tough fight from the South Africans, whose all-win record in the competition so far makes them a formidable contender for a place in the final.
Topics : Hockey