India blank Singapore, face Pakistan in Asia Cup semis

July 14th, 2008 - 10:05 pm ICT by IANS  

By Avishek Roy
Hyderabad, July 14 (IANS) Defending champions India routed Singapore 6-0 to set up a semi-final clash with arch-rivals Pakistan in the junior Asia Cup hockey tournament at the Gachibowli Stadium here Monday. Drag-flicker Diwakar Ram, who has been in fine form in the tournament, scored a brace in India’s win and took his tally of goals to six. S.V. Sunil, Roshan Minz, Gurwinder Singh Chandi and Innocent Kullu were the other scorers.

India topped Pool A with nine points while Japan, who beat Malaysia 3-1, were the second team to qualify in the same pool with six points.

In Pool B, three-times champion Pakistan crushed Bangladesh 8-2 in a must-win match to reach the semi-final where they face India after a day’s rest Wednesday.

In the other semi-final, Japan will take on Pool B toppers South Korea, who crushed Oman 11-0 in their last league match. Both Pakistan and South Korea pocketed seven points but the latter emerged table toppers on better goal difference.

India displayed attacking hockey in the first half and did not allow the opposition to settle down. The combination of Roshan Minz and Sunil was impressive and they created number of openings in the rival defence.

India’s efforts paid off in brilliant fashion as they scored three goals in five minutes in the first half.

Minz scored the first goal in the 25th minute. Sunil got his due when he intercepted a pass from Minz and tapped the ball into the goal. India lead 3-0 in the breather.

India kept on the intensity in the second half as tired Singapore players stayed back to defend their fort. All the three goals scored by Diwakar, Gurwinder and Innocent in the second half came through penalty corners.

In another Pool A, Malaysia drew first blood when Marhan Mohammed Jalil scored in the 19th minute. Japan levelled through Ken Yoshikawa in the 28th minute. Ryota Kuba scored another before Yoshikawa struck the second goal converting a penalty corner to see Japan through to the knock-out stage.

In another match Pakistan crushed Bangladesh 8-2. The scoreline do not suggest the intensity with Bangladesh fought in the first half and went up 2-1 before Pakistan came back strongly to smash them.

The match would have decided the second semi-finalists from the group and Bangladesh were up for the task. They gave a shocker to Pakistan when Ashaduzzaman Chandan converted a penalty corner in the second minute.

Bangladesh forwards then gave a tough time to Pakistan defence. Pakistan equalised through drag-flick expert Kashif in the 22nd minute but conceded another goal within two minutes as Bangladesh once again took the lead through Iqbal Nadir.

But Pakistan came back with a mission in the second half and pounded on Bangladeshi defence scoring one goal after another. Captain Shafqat Rasool, Abdul Haseem Khan and Muhammad Zubair scored a brace while Inayat Ullah struck once.

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